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" i 





With Two Hundred and Thirty-Six Illustrations 




THE following pages, which have been translated 
under my supervision by Miss Florence Simmonds, 
give such an account of the birth and evolution of 
Gothic Architecture as may be considered sufficient 
for a handbook. Mons. Corroyer writes, indeed, 
from a thoroughly French standpoint.' He is 
apt to believe that everything admirable in Gothic 
architecture had a Gallic origin. Vexed questions 
of priority, such as that attaching to the choir of 
Lincoln, he dismisses with a phrase, while the larger 
question of French influence generally in these islands 
of ours, he solves by the simple process of referring 
every creation which takes his fancy either to a 
French master or a French example, here coming, 
be it said, into occasional collision with his own stock 
authority, the late Mons. Viollet - le - due. The 
Chauvinistic tone thus given to his pages may be 
regretted, but, when all is said, it does not greatly 
affect their value as a picture of Gothic development. 
Mons. Corroyer confines himself in the main to broad 

vi Gothic Architecture 

principles. He travels along the line of evolution, 
pointing out how material conditions and discoveries, 
and their consequent social changes, brought about 
one development after another in the forms and 
methods of the architect. In a treatise so conceived, 
the fact that the field of observation is practically 
restricted to France, the few excursions beyond her 
frontier being made rather with a view to displaying 
the extent of her influence than with any desire for 
catholicity of grasp, is of no great moment. The 
English reader for whom this translation is intended, 
will get as clear a notion of how Gothic, as he knows 
it, came into being, as he would from a more universal 
survey, while he has the advantage of some echo, 
at least, of the vivacity, which inspires a Frenchman 
when his theme is " one of the Glories of France." 

W. A. 




















11. SCULPTURE .... 153 

12. PAINTING ....... 179 

Gothic Architecture 



1. ORIGIN ....... 205 



TERIES ....... 227 

4. FORTIFIED ABBEYS ..... 247 


1. RAMPARTS OF TOWNS ..... 269 

2. CASTLES AND KEEPS . ... 291 

3. GATES AND BRIDGES ... . 309 






Canterbury Cathedral. By A. Brunet-Debaines . Frontispiece 


1. Plan of a cupola of the Abbey Church of St. Front at 

Perigueux . .. -.- ' "" . ' . 1 7 

2. Pendentive of a cupola of the Abbey Church of St. Front at 

Perigueux . . . . . I y?v 18 

3. Diagonal section of a pendentive . ,' . s 19 

4. Plan of a cupola of Angouleme or Fontevrault . ; v> - 20 

5. Section of a bay of the cupolas of Angouleme . .*' 20 

6. Section of a bay in the Church of St. Avit-Senieur . . 21 

7. Plan of vault on intersecting arches . * .' . 21 

8. Section of an intersecting arch , . . 22 

9. Plan of a bay in the nave of St. Maurice at Angers . . 24 

10. Transverse section of the nave of St. Maurice at Angers . 25 

1 1. Plan of a bay of the nave. Ste. Trinite, Laval . . 26 

12. Section of two bays of the nave. Ste. Trinite, Laval v 27 

13. 14. Comparative sections of Churches of Angouleme- and 

Angers . . - . . . . . 28 

15. View in perspective of nave vault. St. Maurice at Angers . 29 

1 6. Plan of a summer of the nave vault. Ste. Trinite, Laval . 30 

17. Plan of one of the nave piers. Ste. Trinite, Laval . . 30 

1 8. Plan of the nave, St. Maurice, Angers .i. . . 33 

19. Plan of La Ste. Trinite, Angers . .. . -34 

20. Section of a bay. Ste. Trinite, Angers .. . . 35 

21. Transverse section of a bay. Ste. Trinite, Angers . . 37 

22. Section of a single-aisled Church vaulted on intersecting 

arches with buttresses . . ... .38 

x Gothic Architecture 


23. Section of a three-aisled Church vaulted on intersecting 

arches with flying buttresses . . . -39 

24. Durham Cathedral. Transverse sections . . .43 

25. Abbey Church at Noyon. Plan . . . .44 

26. Transverse section of Noyon Church . . .45 

27. Church of Tournai, Belgium. Exterior view of north transept 

towards the Scheldt ..... 46 

28. Monastery Church at Moissac. Vault of the hall known as 

the Salle des Capitaines above the porch . . .47 

29. Church of Tournai, Belgium. Interior of north transept . 47 

30. Soissons Cathedral, south transept. Section of flying 

buttress . . . . . .48 

31. Perspective view of south transept, Soissons Cathedral . 49 

32. Cathedral of Laon. Plan . . . . .52 

33. Cathedral of Laon. Interior of the nave . . .54 

34. Cathedral of Laon. Main fa9ade . . . -55 

35. Cathedral of Laon. The east end . . . -57 

36. Cathedral of Laon. Section of the nave . . .58 

37. Notre Dame de Paris. Plan . . . -59 

38. Notre Dame de Paris. Section of the nave . . 60 

39. Notre Dame de Paris. Flying buttresses and south tower . 61 

40. Sens Cathedral. Plan of a bay . . . .62 

41. Sens Cathedral. Section of a bay of the nave . . 63 

42. Sens Cathedral. Interior ..... 64 

43. Bourges Cathedral. Section of the nave . . .'65 

44. Rheims Cathedral. Plan ..... 68 

45. Rheims Cathedral. Section of the nave . . .70 

46. Rheims Cathedral. Flying buttresses of the choir . . 71 

47. Amiens Cathedral. Plan . . . . " 72 

48. Amiens Cathedral. Section through the nave . . 73 

49. Beauvais Cathedral. Apse . . . . -75 

50. Beauvais Cathedral. North front . . . .76 

51. Beauvais Cathedral. Transverse section . . -77 
.52. Chartres Cathedral. Rose window of north transept . 78 

53. Mans Cathedral. Plan ..... 80 

54. Mans Cathedral. Flying buttresses of the apse . . 81 

Illustrations xi 


55. Mans Cathedral. Section of the choir . . .82 

56. Coutances Cathedral. North tower . . .83 

57. Rodez Cathedral. West front . . . .86 

58. Bordeaux Cathedral. Choir and north front . . 87 

59. Lichfield Cathedral. West front . . . .88 

60. Lincoln Cathedral. Plan . . . . 91 

6 1. Lincoln Cathedral. West front . . . .92 

62. Lincoln Cathedral. Transept . . . .94 

63. Lincoln Cathedral. Apse and chapter-house . . 95 

64. Brussels Cathedral (Ste. Gudule). West front . . 97 

65. Cologne Cathedral. South front . . . .99 

66. Burgos Cathedral. West front . . . 101 

67. Cathedral or Duomo of Siena. West front . . 102 

68. Church of St. Francis at Assisi. Apse and cloisters . 103 

69. Church of St. Ouen at Rouen. Central tower and apse, 

south front . . . . . .106 

70. Albi Cathedral. Plan . . . . .108 

71. Albi Cathedral. Section of the nave . . in 

72. Albi Cathedral. Apse . . . . 113 

73. Albi Cathedral. Donjon tower and south front . .114 

74. Church of Esnandes. A fortified church . . . Il6 

75. Abbey of Mont St. Michel. Flying buttresses of the 

choir . . . . . . .118 

76. Abbey of Mont St. Michel. Plan of the choir . .119 

77. Abbey of Mont St. Michel. Details of the apse . . 120 

78. Alen9on Cathedral. West front . . . .122 

79. Fa9ade of the Cathedral of St. Sophia. Island of Cyprus 123 

80. Cathedral of St. Nicholas. Island of Cyprus . .124 

8 1. Cathedral of St. Nicholas. Island of Cyprus . . 126 

82. Church of St. Sophia. Island of Cyprus. Ruins . .127 

83. Steeple, Vendome . . . . . .129 

84. Giotto's Tower at Florence . . . . .130 

85. Bayeux Cathedral. Towers of the west front . .132 

86. Senlis Cathedral. South tower of west front . . 133 

87. Salisbury Cathedral. Steeple . . . 135 

88. Church of Langrune (Calvados). Steeple . . .136 

xii Gothic Architecture 


89. Church of the Jacobins at Toulouse. Tower . 138 

90. Church of St. Pierre at Caen. Tower . . .140 

91. Church of St. Michel at Bordeaux. Tower . . 141 

92. Cathedral of Freiburg-im-Breisgau . . . . 142 

93. Antwerp Cathedral . . . . .143 

94. Rheims Cathedral. Statues of west front . . .154 

95. Rheims Cathedral. Statues of west front . . 155 

96. Rheims Cathedral. Statues of west front . . .156 

97. Rheims Cathedral. Principal door. Statue and ornament 157 

98. Rheims Cathedral. Principal door. Statue and ornament 158 

99. Notre Dame de Paris. Principal door. Running leaf pattern 159 

100. Notre Dame de Paris. Principal door. Running leaf pattern 160 

101. Chartres Cathedral. Statues of north porch . . 161 

102. Chartres Cathedral. Statues of south porch . . 162 

103. Amiens Cathedral. Central porch of west front . . 163 

104. Amiens Cathedral. Statues in the south porch . .164 

105. Amiens Cathedral. Choir stalls. Carved ornament . 165 

106. Abbey of Mont St. Michel. Ornament of cloisters . 166 

107. Wooden Statuette (thirteenth century). Ateliers of La 

Chaise Dieu, Auvergne ..... 167 

108. io8a. Two ivory statuettes. School of Paris . 168, 169 

109. Wooden Statuette (fourteenth century). School of Paris . 170 
no, iio#. Two ivory diptychs (fourteenth century). School 

of the Ile-de-France . . . . .171 

111. ilia. Ivory diptych and plaque (fourteenth century). 

School of the Ile-de-France . . . 172,173 

112. Head in silver gilt repousse. Ateliers of the Goldsmith's 

Guild of Paris . . . . . .174 

113. Group carved in wood (fifteenth century). School of 

Antwerp . . . . . . .175 

114. Wooden statuette, painted and gilded (fifteenth century) . 176 

115. Wooden statuette, painted and gilded (sixteenth century) . 177 

116. Paintings in Cahors Cathedral. Horizontal projection of 

the cupola . . . . . .180 

117. Paintings in Cahors Cathedral. One of the prophets in the 

cupola ....... 182 

Illustrations xiii 


1 1 8. Paintings in Cahors Cathedral. Fragment of central frieze 

of cupola ....... 184 

119, 120. Painted windows of the early twelfth century. From 

St. Remi, Rheims . . . . . 187 

121. Painted window of the twelfth century. Church of 

Bonlieu, Creuse . . . . . .188 

122. Painted window of the thirteenth century. Chartres 

Cathedral . . . . . .189 

123. Painted window of the thirteenth century. Chartres 

Cathedral . . . . . .190 

124. Painted window of the thirteenth century. Church of St. 

Germer, Troyes . . . . . .191 

125. Painted windows of the fourteenth century. Church of St. 

Urbain, Troyes . . . . . 193 

126. Painted glass of the fourteenth century. Cathedral of 

Chalons-sur-Marne ..... 194 

127. Painted window of the fifteenth century. Evreux Cathedral 195 

128. Enamel of the eleventh century. Plaque cover of a MS. . 196 

129. Enamel of the thirteenth century. Plaque cover of an 

Evangelium . . . . . . 198 

130. Enamel of the twelfth century. Reliquary shrine of St. 

Thomas a Becket . . . . 199 

131. Enamel of the sixteenth century. Our Lady of Sorrows . 200 

132. Abbey of Mont St. Michel. Cloister (thirteenth century) 206 

133. Abbey of Cluny. Gateway .... 216 

134. Abbey of Cluny. Plan ..... 219 

135. Abbey of Cluny. Door of the Abbey Church . .221 

136. Abbey of St. Etienne at Caen. Fafade . . . ' 228 

137. St. Alban's Abbey (England) .... 230 

138. Abbey of Montmaj our. Cloisters .... 231 

139. Abbey of Elne. Cloisters. .... 232 

140. Abbey of Fontfroide. Cloisters .... 233 

141. Abbey of Maulbronn (Wurtemberg). Plan . . 235 

142. Abbey of Fontevrault. Kitchen .... 236 

143. Cathedra] of Puy-en-Velay. Cloisters . . . 237 

144. Abbey of La Chaise Dieu (Auvergne). Cloisters . . 239 

145. Chartreuse of Villefranche de Rouergue. Plan . . 242 

xiv Gothic Architecture 


146. Chartreuse of Villefranche de Rouergue. Bird's-eye view . 243 

147. Grande Chartreuse. The Great Cloister . . . 244 

148. Grande Chartreuse. General View . . . 245 

149. Abbey of Mont St. Michel. General View . . 248 

150. Abbey of Mont St. Michel. Plan at the level of the 

entrance ....... 249 

151. Abbey of Mont St. Michel. Plan at the level of the 

lower church . . . . . .250 

152. Abbey of Mont St. Michel. Plan at the level of the 

upper church ...... 252 

153. Abbey of Mont St. Michel. Section from north to south . 253 

154. Abbey of Mont St. Michel. Section from west to east . 254 

155. Abbey of Mont St. Michel. Crypt known as the Galerie 

de V Aquilon . . . . . .256 

156. Abbey of Mont St. Michel. North front . . . 257 

157. Abbey of Mont St. Michel. The almonry . . 258 

158. Abbey of Mont St. Michel. A tympanum of the cloisters . 259 

159. Abbey of Mont St. Michel. The cellar . . . 260 

1 60. Abbey of Mont St. Michel.' Refectory . . . 262 

161. Abbey of Mont St. Michel. Hall of the knights . . 263 

162. St. Michael's Mount, Cornwall .... 264 

163. Abbey of Mont St. Michel. Gate-house . . . 270 

164. City of Carcassonne. South-east ramparts . . 273 

165. City of Carcassonne. North-west ramparts . . 274 

1 66. Fortress of Kalaat-el-Hosn. Section . . .277 
i66a. Fortress of Kalaat-el-Hosn. General view . . 278 

167. City of Carcassonne. Plan of the thirteenth century . 279 

168. City of Carcassonne. Ramparts, south-west angle . 280 

169. Ramparts of Aigues-Mortes, north and south . . '281 

1 70. Ramparts of Avignon. Curtain and towers . . 282 
170^. Machicolations ...... 283 

171. Ramparts of St. Malo ..... 284 

172. Mont St. Michel.. South front .... 287 

173. Mont St. Michel. As restored on paper . . . 288 

1 74. Castle of Angers ... . . 292 

175. Carcassonne. Citadel ..... 293 

Illustrations xv 


176. Loches Castle. Keep . . . . ' 294 

177. Falaise Castle. Keep . . . ... 297 

178. Lavardin Castle. Keep . . . . . . 298 

179. Keep of Aigues-Mortes . . . .'.-., 299 

1 80. Provins Castle. Keep . . . . . 300 

181. Castle, Chinon ...... 302 

182. Castle, Clisson. Keep ..... 303 

183. Castle. Villeneuve-les- Avignon .... 304 

184. Castle of Tarascon . . . , . 305 

185. Vitre Castle . . . . , . 307 

1 86. City of Carcassonne. Castle gate . . . .310 

187. City of Carcassonne. Gate of the Lists . , . . 312 

1 88. City of Carcassonne. Gate known as the Porte Narbonaise 313 

189. Ramparts of Aigues-Mortes. Drawbridge. . . 314 

190. Ramparts of Dinan. Gate known as the Porte de Jerzual . 315 

191. Vitre Castle. Gate-house ..... 317 

192. Ramparts of Guerande. Gate known as the Porte St. 

Michel . . . . . . . 318 

193. Ramparts of Mont St. Michel. Gateway known as the 

Porte du Rot ...... 320 

194. Entrance to the Port of La Rochelle . . . 322 

195. Bridge at Avignon . . , . . 323 

196. Bridge of Montauban ..... 325 

197. Bridge of Cahors ...... 326 

198. Bridge of Orthez . . . . . 327 

199. Fortified bridge. Mont St. Michel . . . 328 

200. Town-hall at St. Antonin (Tarn et Garonne) . . 334 

201. Barn at Perrieres (Calvados) . , . . . 335 
20ia. Barn at Perrieres (Calvados). Section . . . 336 
201/5. Barn at Perrieres (Calvados). Plan . . . 336 

202. Tithe-barn at Provins . . . .... 337 

203. Granary of the Abbey of Vauclair . . . 338 

204. Hospital of St. John, Angers ' , . " . .' 339 

205. Abbey of Ourscamps (Oise) -. V . . 340 

206. Lazar-house at Tortoir (Aisne) . . . .341 

207. Hospital at Tonnerre. Section . \ 343 

xvi Gothic Architecture 


208, 2080. Houses at Cluny .... 347, 348 

209, 210. Houses at Vitteaux and at St. Antonin . . 349 
211, 212. Houses at Provins and at Laon . . 350, 351 

213. House at Cordes. Albigeois .... 352 

214. House at Mont St. Michel ..... 354 

215. 216. Wooden houses at Rouen and at Andelys . 355, 356 

217. Hotel Lallemand at Bourges .... 357 

218. Jacques Cceur's house at Bourges .... 358 

219. Town-hall of Pienza, Italy . .... 361 

220. Town-hall and belfry at Ypres .... 363 

221. Market and belfry at Bruges .... 365 

222. Town-hall of Bruges . . . . . 366 

223. Town-hall at Louvain ..... 368 

224. Belfry of Tournai (Belgium) .... 370 

225. Belfry of Ghent (Belgium) . . . . . 371 

226. Belfry at Calais (France) . . . . -374 

227. Belfry of Bethune (France) . . . . .376 

228. Belfry of 6vreux (France) . . . . -377 

229. Belfry of Avignon (France) .... 378 

230. Belfry gate known as La Grosse Cloche, Bordeaux . 379 

231. Cloth hall known as La Loge, Perpignan . . .381 

232. Bishop's Palace at Laon ..... 382 

233. Archbishop's Palace at Albi. Plan . . . 383 

234. Archbishop's Palace at Albi. General view . .384 

235. Palace of the Popes at Avignon. Plan . . . 385 

236. Palace of the Popes at Avignon. General view . . 387 





THE term Gothic, as applied to the architectural 
period dating from the middle of the twelfth to the 
end of the fifteenth century, is purely conventional. 

The expression is clearly misleading as indicating 
the architecture of the Goths or Visigoths ; for these 
tribes were vanquished by Clovis in the sixth century, 
and left no monumental trace of their invasion. 
Hence, their influence upon art was nil. The term 
is radically false both from the historical and the 
archaeological point of view, and originates in an 
error which demands the strenuous opposition due to 
persistent fallacies. By a strange irony of fate the 
term Gothic, used in the last century merely as the 
opprobrious synonym of barbaric, has been specialised 
within the last sixty years in connection with that 
polished epoch of the Middle Ages which sheds most 
lustre upon our national art. And this, in spite of 
its Germanic origin. 

Romanesque architecture, or to be exact, that 

2 Gothic Architecture 

architecture which, by virtue of the archa^ologic 
convention of 1825, we agree to label Romanesque, 
undoubtedly borrowed its essential elements from 
the Romans and Byzantines, modifying and perfect- 
ing them by the genius of Western Europe ; but the 
architectural period which began in the middle of 
the twelfth century, and is so unjustly dubbed Gothic ; 
was of purely French birth ; its cradle was the* 
nucleus of modern France. Aquitaine, Anjou, and \ v 
Maine were the provinces in which it first took root. 
The royal domain, and notably the Ile-de-France, 
witnessed its most marvellous developments, and it 
was from the very heart of France that its splendour 
radiated throughout Europe. 

But the tyranny of usage leaves us no choice as 
to the title of this volume. We are compelled to 
style it Gothic Architecture, though we would gladly 
have registered our protest by naming it French 
Mediceval Architecture} 

1 This idea, which has recently found support in quarters which 
might have been considered free from such chauvinism, is based upon 
a narrow and peculiarly modern view of art. Art activities in the 
Middle Ages were as instinctive and unconscious as speech. The 
forms of architecture were invented and elaborated much in the same 
way as language. For the purpose of the historian of architecture, the 
northern half of France, the three southern quarters of Great Britain, 
and the districts threaded by the Rhine, form a single country, a single 
foyer of art. They all pressed on from similar starting-points to similar 
goals ; and if the French went ahead in one direction, they fell astern in 
another. It may be allowed that, on the whole, the architects of the 
Ile-de-France did better than their rivals. Gothic architecture is pre- 
eminently logical, and logic is pre-eminently the artistic gift of the 
Frenchman. So that its more scientific development in the " French 
royal domain " was only to be expected. That success of this kind 
gives a right to call the whole development " French mediaeval architect- 
ure " cannot be allowed. ED. 

Introduction 3 

The term Gothic is, however, purely arbitrary, as 
is also that of pointed, which has been introduced by 
writers who admit the principle of the broken arch 
as the characteristic of so-called Gothic architecture. 

The broken or pointed arch, which is formed by 
the intersection of two opposite curves at an angle 
more or less acute, was known to architects long 
before its systematic application. It occurs in build- : 
ings of the ninth century in Cairo, and was used 
prior to this in Armenia, and still earlier in Persia, 
where indeed it superseded all other forms of span 
from the times of the last of the Sassanides onwards. 
It is an expedient which gives increased power of 
resistance to the arch by diminishing its lateral 

The pointed arch is a form which admits of 
infinite variations. The one law which governs its 
construction is expediency. It frankly abandons 
those rules of classic proportion which are the canons, 
so to speak, of the round-headed arch. Thus we 
shall find the pointed approximating to the round- 
headed form in the twelfth century, only to diverge 
from it more widely than before, till, towards the 
close of the thirteenth and throughout the fourteenth 
century, it took on the acute proportions necessitated 
by a perilous disposition to prefer loftiness to solidity. \ 

Fundamentally, it is of little moment whether the v 
architecture of the twelfth to the sixteenth century 
be termed Gothic or pointed, when we recognise 
these terms as equally inexact. The point to be 
really insisted upon is that the filiation we have 
already demonstrated in our book on Romanesque 
Architecture continued slowly, but surely, in the 

4 Gothic Architecture 

wake of civilisation, of which architecture is ever one 
of the most striking manifestations. 

So-called Gothic architecture was not the product 
of a single generation ; it was the continuous logical 
development of the Romanesque movement, just as 
the latter in its time had been the outcome of a 
gradual adaptation of old traditions to new-born 
exigencies. Thus our Aquitainian forbears, by their 
successful translation into stone of the eastern cupola, 
prepared the way for the groined vault, the embryo 
of which is clearly traceable in the pendentives of 
the dome at St. Front. 

The great churches which, towards the middle of 
the twelfth century, rose throughout the rich Western 
provinces that cluster about Aquitaine, were all 
constructed with groined vaults. In these examples 
we can discern no halting, tentative application of 
newly adopted principles. The work is that of 
consummate architects, who brought to their labours 
the assurance born of experienced skill, and in the 
later part of the twelfth century, the new system had 
replaced all others for the construction of vaults 
throughout Western Europe. 

The architects of the royal domain, and notably 
those of the Ile-de-France, had been the first to adopt 
the groined vault. Towards the close of the twelfth 
century their assimilation of the new principles, their 
native ingenuity, and professional hardihood alike 
urged them to its further development. They became 
the inventors of the flying buttress. 

The substitution of the groined vault for its parent, 
the cupola, was the direct consequence of the old 
tradition. The development was merely a stage in 

Introduction 5 

the march of ideas, a consummation logically arrived 
at in the track which the Romans, constructors not 
less bold though more prudent than their artistic 
progeny, had marked out for them. The groined 
vault, in short, is simply the growth of Roman prin- 
ciples perfected by continuous experiment. But the 
flying buttress, or rather the system of construction 
based on its use, caused a radical change in the art 
of building of the twelfth century. Stability, which 
in the ancient buildings was ensured by solid masses 
at the impost of vaults and arches, was replaced by 
the balance ot partsl r rom this daring system some 
~of the most marvellous of architectural effects have 
been won ; but the innovation had a dangerous 
inherent weakness, inasmuch as it involved the 
exterior position of those essential vital organs for 
whose preservation the ancients had wisely provided, 
by keeping them within the building. 

It is therefore not surprising that though fifty years 
after its introduction the groined vault was generally 
adopted throughout Western Europe, and even in the 
East, the success of the flying buttress was infinitely 
more gradual and restricted. Thus, in the North, the 
multiplication of great religious monuments built, or 
even rebuilt on the new lines, was simultaneous with 
the construction in the South of vast churches on the 
old principles. The adventurous builders of the 
North had eagerly adopted the new division of 
churches into several aisles, all with groined vaults, 
the vault of the great central nave relying upon 
exterior flying buttresses for resistance to its thrust. 

In the South, on the other hand, architects were 
prudent, either through instinctive resistance to, or 

6 Gothic Architecture 

deliberate reaction from, the innovating influence, 
or by way of fidelity to an ancient tradition. They 
built with a single aisle, wide and lofty ; the vaults 
were indeed supported by ribs, but their thrusts were 
received by powerful buttresses inside the walls, the 
projections thus formed being further utilised for the 
construction of chapels in the intervals. 

This latter system, which has the incontestable 
merit of perfect solidity, recalls the construction of 
the Basilica of Constantine, or of the tepidarium in 
the Baths of Caracalla. The stability of the edifice 
was ensured by the resistance of masses at the 
imposts, and the whole principle of construction 
formed, as it were, a protest against the miracles of 
equilibrium so much in favour among the Northerners. 

The new system of vaults supported by flying 
buttresses made very slight way in the South. It 
appears but rarely, and in the few instances where it 
is used has entirely the air of a foreign importation. 
Even in the cradle of its origin, it took root slowly 
and with difficulty, for its first applications were not 
without disaster. Lacking that mathematical know- 
ledge which is the mainstay of the modern architect, 
the experimental skill shown by the thirteenth- 
century builder in constructing his vaults, and then 
in neutralising their thrusts by flying buttresses 
reduced to the legitimate function of permanent 
struts, was little short of miraculous. For it must be 
borne in mind that the thrust of these vaults, and the 
strength of the flying buttresses, varied of necessity 
according to their span, and the resisting powers of 
their materials. It was only by dint of long gropings 
in the dark that the necessarily empirical formulae 

Introduction 7 

of the innovators were gradually transformed into 
recognised rules, and this knotty problem of construc- 
tion received no positive solution till the last years 
of the thirteenth, or more emphatically, the first years 
of the fourteenth century. While even then the 
solution could claim no universal acceptance, for 
what was comparatively easy in countries where stone 
abounds became difficult, if not impossible, in districts 
where such a material as brick was the sole resource 
of builders. 

Nevertheless, the growth of Gothic architecture 
was rapid, so rapid that even in fop fourteenth 
century it began to show symptoms of that swift 
decadence which is the Nemesis of facile success. 
The abuse of equilibrium, the excessive diminution 
of points of support defects often aggravated by 
insecurity of foundation and exaggerated loftiness of 
structure the poor quality of materials, and the 
faulty setting thereof due to empirical methods, the 
over -rapidity of execution caused by mistaken 
emulation, the dearth of funds consequent on social 
and political convulsions complicated by the 
miseries of war, all these things joined hands for 
the extinction of a once resplendent art. But the 
initial cause of its ruin must be sought in its 
abandonment of antique traditions. These_jtradi- 
tions had persisted uninterruptedly throughout the 
so-called Romanesque period, only to pave the way 
for a seductive art in novel form, which, casting 
aside the trammels of the past in obedience to the 
dictates of the moment, fell on decay as rapidly as 
it had risen to eminence. Dawning in the France 
of Louis the Fat, it reached its apogee under St. 

8 Gothic Architecture 

Louis, and was in full decadence before the close of 
the fifteenth century. 

The narrow limits assigned to us forbid not only 
detailed discussion of our great monuments, but even 
a summary of the most famous. We must be con- 
tent to work out that theory of evolution already 
put forward by us in U Architecture Romane. We 
propose merely to offer a synthesis of that archi- 
tectural development which succeeded the so-called 
Romanesque epoch, from its birth in the twelfth to 
its extinction in the fifteenth century. 

And as the groined vault is, broadly speaking, 
the essential characteristic of so-called Gothic archi- 
tecture, and the flying buttress one of its most 
interesting manifestations, we shall make a special 
study of their origin, their modifications, and their 
principal applications in connection with religious, 
monastic, military, and civil architecture. We shall 
dwell more particularly upon religious architecture 
as presenting the grandest and most obvious evi- 
dences of artistic progress, not in its admirable 
buildings alone, but in those masterpieces of paint- 
ing and sculpture to which it gave birth in France. 





The cupola, in its symbolic aspect, was the germ, whence sprang 
an architectural sy 'stem the revolutionary action of which 
upon art can scarcely be overestimated. x 

SO-CALLED Gothic architecture was no spontaneous 
and miraculous manifestation. Like all human 
activities, its end is easy to determine ; but it is 
difficult to fix even an approximate date for its 
beginning. The traces of its origin are lost in that 
period of architectural activity which preceded it, and 
prepared its way by a train of unbroken evolution. 

The cupola of St. Front, which we may reason- 
ably call the mother cupola of France, was not an 
imitation of that of St. Mark at Venice, for both 
were based upon the church built by Justinian at 
Constantinople, in honour of the Holy Apostles. 
But the form thus imported into Aquitaine received 
such modification and development, as to make it 
virtually an original achievement. One of the 
knottiest of architectural problems was solved in the 

1 L 1 Architecture Rotnane, by Ed. Corroyer ; Quantin, Paris, 1888. 

12 Gothic Architecture 

process, and that admirable constructive principle 
was established which consists in concentrating the 
thrust of a vault upon four points of support 
strengthened by pendentives. 

The construction of such a cupola as that of 
St. Front in dressed stone was an event of great 
moment in a district which still preserved the Gallo- 
Roman tradition in its integrity, and was commonly 
reputed the fatherland of our architecture. Its 
immediate consequences were shown before the close 
of the eleventh century by the erection of large 
abbey churches on the model of St. Front in various 
neighbouring provinces. 

But while accepting the new principle, the 
architects of the period directed their energies to its 
perfectibility. Their efforts, and even their successes, 
in this direction are manifest so early as the first 
years of the twelfth century. The churches of 
Angouleme and of Fontevrault may be cited in 
proof. " We jiere recognise the maiixj)reoccupation 
of the Romanesque builders namely, how best to 
reduce the immense masses of churches built with 
the primitive cupola by a more deliberate and 
judicious distribution of thrust and resistance. We 
further see how the adoption of these principles led 
to the emphasising of critical points by buttresses, 
which now began to project from the exterior 
walls." l 

The new system spread rapidly, notably in 
Anjou and Maine, its growth being marked by an 
ever - increasing refinement and perfection. The 
architects of the rich abbeys of these provinces, the 

1 L? Architecture Romane, by Ed. Corroyer ; Quantin, Paris, 1888. 

Influence of Cupola on Gothic Architecture 13 

importance of which was aggrandised by their strong 
attachments to the all-powerful religious organisation 
of the period, gave a further development to the 
Aquitainian method. They transformed the pen- 
dentives of the cupolas into independent arches 
which performed exactly the same functionsrthus 
logically working-out an architectonic principle of 
amazing simplicity, the success of which was so 
raplcf that, by the middle of the twelfth century, it 
was systematically applied to the construction of 
great churches at Angers, Laval, and Poitiers. 

The works of the Angevin architects were of 
course known to their Northern brethren, who, in 
common with all the builders of the day, had long 
been seeking the final solution of the great problem 
of the vault. The architects of the Ile-de-France 
at once appropriated the Angevin system with that 
special professional ingenuity which characterised 
them, and applied it to the construction of innumer- 
able churches, large and small, all of them built on 
the basilican plan that is to say, with three, or even 
five aisles. 

Thus the Aquitainian cupola of dressed stone 
exercised an absolutely direct influence upon Gothic 
architecture, since it gave birth to the intersecting 
arch, which is the main feature of so-called Gothic. 
This influence was first manifested in the general 
arrangement of single-aisled churches vaulted upon 
intersecting ribs, the earliest departure from the 
original cupola. It was then more grandiosely 
demonstrated in vast abbey or cathedral churches, 
built in accordance with the basilican tradition, and 
all vaulted on the new principle. 

14 Gothic Architecture 

Angers and Laval are primitive examples of 
churches whose square compartments carry groined 
vaults, which thenceforth took the place of cupolas 
with pendentives. 

The abbey church of Noyon shows the application 
of this principle, novel in the twelfth century, to the 
several-aisled churches of the Northern architects. 
The original vaults of Noyon * were planned in square. 
The intersecting arches united the principal piers 
diagonally, the strain being relieved by a subordinate 
or auxiliary arch which rested upon secondary piers, 
indicated on the exterior by buttresses less salient 
than those of the main piers, and on the interior by 
a column receiving the lateral archivolts which united 
the chief piers. 

This system of construction, the principle of which 
was logically developed at Noyon, for instance, no 
longer exists, save in its traditional state in the great 
churches of Laon, and in the cathedrals of Paris, 
Sens, and Bourges, to name but the principal, without 
regard to the innumerable churches built on these 
principles- throughout Western Europe. In these 
great buildings the vaults were all square on plan 
down to the adoption in the first half of the thirteenth 
century of equal bays, vaulted on a rectangular plan, 
and marked inside and out by equal piers and 
projections, as at Amiens, Rheims, and many other 
churches of the period. 

Hence we see how incontestable was the influence 

1 The original disposition of the vaults built about 1160 is indicated 
by the spring of the arches above the capitals, and by the base plan of 
the principal piers. The present vaults on rectangular plan were built 
after the fire of 1238, in accordance with prevailing fashions. 

Influence of Cupola on Gothic Architecture 15 

of the cupola upon so-called Gothic architecture. 
This truth is demonstrated by monuments yet in 
existence, lapidary documents above suspicion. It 
cannot be insisted upon too strongly, not merely 
for the satisfaction of archaeologic accuracy, but more 
especially as yet another proof that the filiation 
between the art of the ancients and that of the so- 
called Romanesque architects is no less evident than 
that which links together the Romanesque and the 
so-called Gothic. Of this latter filiation we have a 
direct proof in the Aquitainian cupola, the parent of 
those of Angoumois, which in their turn gave birth 
to the Angevin intersecting arch, and so prepared the 
way for the flying buttress, which again was to mark 
a new departure. 



So early as the eleventh century churches were built 
with one or several aisles, and in this latter case the 
side aisles only had ribbed vaults, the nave being 
covered by a timber roof. The next step was to 
vault all three aisles, buttressing the barrel-vaulted 
nave by continuous half-barrel vaults or ribbed vaults 
over the aisles, and further strengthening it by 
projecting transverse arches, or arcs doubleaux, the 
whole being crowned by a roof which embraced the 
side aisles. These cumbrous and timidly constructed 
buildings were merely imitations of the Roman 
basilicas. To ensure their solidity they had perforce 
to be narrow ; and the necessary abolition of top 
lighting made them gloomy. We find then that, 
before the appearance of the cupola, mediaeval 
architects were perfectly acquainted both with the 
barrel vault and the ribbed vault, the latter formed, 
on traditional principles, by the interpenetration of 
two demi-cylinders. They had even attempted to 
improve upon the construction by strengthening the 
line of penetration with a salient rib, giving an 
elliptic arch. But this rib was purely decorative, for 

The Origin of the Intersecting Vaiilt 17 

in the Roman vault the stones at the line of inter- 
section, whether ribbed or not, were in complete 
solidarity with the filling on either side in which 
they were buried. 

It follows that we shall seek in vain in the Roman 
ribbed vault the germ of the intersecting arch, with 
its essentially active functions. 

For the origin of the intersecting arch we must 
turn to the eleventh 





century. We shall 
find it in the dressed 
stone cupola of St. 
Front, and more 
especially in its 

Fig. i gives the 
plan of one of the 
cupolas of St. Front. 
It is composed of 
four massive trans- 
verse arches, the 
thrusts of which are A 

. , r ^ - - T V 

received upon four 



pendentives (Figs. 2 

and 3) passing from the re-entering angles at the 
spring of the arches to the base of the circular dome 
itself, each of the concentric courses bearing upon 
the keys of the arcs-doubleaux, and transmitting to 
them, and therefore to the piers by which they are 
supported, the weight of the cupola itself. 

Fig. 3 is a section through one of the pendentives 
of St. Front, following the line A B in Fig. i . It 



Gothic Architecture 

shows that the first six courses are cut so as to 
make what is called a tas de charge ; the upper 
surfaces are horizontal, the faces curved to the radius 


of the dome itself. After the sixth course the 
voussoirs are cut normally to the curve of the arch. 
The vaulting of religious buildings having long been 
the crux of mediaeval architects, the construction of 

The Origin of the Intersecting Vault 19 

the St. Front cupolas must have been an event 

much noised abroad, for towards the close of the 

eleventh century a large number of churches with 

cupolas were built 

in imitation of the 

mother church at 


The construc- 
tion of the churches 
of Angouleme and 
Fontevrault in the 
first years of the 
twelfth century 
shows that the 
architects were at- 
tempting to cover 
spaces of ever- 
increasing span on 
the Aquitainian 
model, while at the 
same time they set 
themselves to 
lighten their vaults, 
and consequently 
to reduce their 



points of support. 

Fig. 4 gives the 
plan of one of the cupolas of Angouleme or of 
Fontevrault, both being built on precisely similar 
plan, with the exception of the number of bays to 
the nave. 

Fig. 5 gives the section of a bay in one of these 
churches, and illustrates the considerable difference 


Goth ic A rch itectit re 

already existing between the mother cupola of St. 

Front and its off- 
spring. The cupola 
on pendentives 
begins to show a 
certain attenuation, 
and we shall pre- 
sently note a fresh 
step forward towards 
the solution of that 
problem so persist- 
ently grappled with 
by the mediaeval 
architect how to 
reduce the weight of 
the vault. 


The Church of 
St. Avit-Senieur 
furnishes a most 
instructive ex- 

The cupola of 
this building is 
strengthened by 
stiffening ribs. 
It becomes an 
annular vault, 
formed of almost 
horizontal keyed 
courses, sustained 
by transverse and 
diagonal ribs, 
which act the part of a permanent centering. 


The Origin of the Intersecting Vault 21 

The Church of St. Pierre at Saumur marks a 
further step onwards 
in the construction 
of vaults derived 
from the cupola. 1 

Finally, the 
architects of Maine 
and Anjou .achieved 
the long-desired con- 
summation. Under 
their treatment the 
pendentives resolved 
themselves into their 
actively useful ele- 
ments, the visible 
signs of which were 
diap-onal or inter 6 ' SECT1ON OF A BAY *, N THE CHURCH OF 


secting arches, 

salient and indepen- 
dent, set in precisely 
the same manner as 
the pendentives of the 
cupola (Fig. 3), and 
performing identical 
functions (Fig. 8). 

The vault proper 
is no longer formed 
of concentric courses, 
as in the mother 
cupola. It consists 
thenceforward of 
voussoirs cut normally 


1 V Architecture Roinane, by Ed. Corroyer. 


Gothic Architecture 

to the curve, and filling the triangles (A, B, C, D, 
Fig. 7) determined by the longitudinal, the diagonal 
or intersecting, and the transverse arches. These 
arches form a stone skeleton, no less solid though far 
.less ponderous than the cupola pendentives, and 

sustain the vault by 
distributing its thrusts 
over four points of 

The triangular 
fillings no longer 
imprison the ribs, or, 
more exactly speak- 
ing, the intersecting 
arches, nor do they 
any longer neutralise 
their active functions. 
These fillings, on the 
other hand, have, like 
the intersecting arch, 


pendence. They now 

contribute to the elasticity of the divers organs of the 
vault, a most essential element in its solidity. The 
peculiar arrangement of the intersecting arches in the 
nave of Angers gives incontrovertible proof of the 
direct filiation of this building to the Aquitainian 
cupola. The voussoirs of the intersecting arches are 
about equal in horizontal section to those of the trans- 
verse arches, while their vertical section equals the 
thickness of the filling plus the internal salience 
which marks their function. They look in fact like 
slices cut from the pendentives of a cupola (A, Fig. 8). 

The Origin of the Intersecting Vault 23 

It must be remarked, too, that at Angers the stones 
of the filling do not yet rest upon the extrados of the 
ribs, in the fashion adopted some years later in the 
He -de -France and elsewhere (see B, Fig. 8), but 
embrace them (as at A). 

The identity of function in the pendentive and 
in the Gothic intersecting arch, both constructed, as 
they are, of stones dressed normally to their curves, 
shows that they sprang from a common origin, which 
is as much as to say that the Aquitainian cupola 
begat the intersecting vault. 



THE first application of the system of intersecting 
vaults appears in the great churches of Angers and 

It is probable that the new methods propagated 

by the religious archi- 
tects of Aquitaine 
and neighbouring 
provinces had ex- 
cited the emulation 
of the Northern 
builders, more especi- 
ally those of the Ile- 
de - France. Evi- 
dences to this effect 
are to be found in 
certain subordinate 
portions of their 
buildings at this 
period, such as side aisles or apsidal chapels. Their 
timid arrangement seems, however, reminiscent of 
the Roman system of ribbed vaulting, with a slightly 
increased prominence of the ribs superadded, rather 


The First Groined Vaults 

2 5 

than of the revolution that had been effected in 
church vaulting generally. 


But, if we except perhaps Laval, nowhere shall 
we find the new system of vaulting upon intersecting 
arches more mightily demonstrated than at Angers, 
the aisles of which measure 54 feet across. The 


Gothic Architecture 

grandeur of the architectural composition, no less than 
the admirable technical skill shown in the details, 
gives proof of the consummate mastery arrived at by 
the builders of these noble structures so early as the 
middle of the twelfth century. The plan of these 
churches resembles that of Angouleme and Fonte- 
vrault. It is in no way allied to the Northern 

They are constructed with single aisles, like the 

cupola churches, with 
a series of bays, 
square on plan ; but 
the arrangement of 
the vaults has been 
perfected by the 
logical use of inter- 
secting arches in the 
place of pendentives, 
the architects of the 
day having realised 
by this time the 
progress we have 
explained and de- 
monstrated in the preceding chapter. 

These vast aisles, vaulted on intersecting arches, 
are of course allied to the cupolas ; they recall their 
general outline, but the arrangement of the vaulting 
is different. The intersecting ribs are no longer 
merely decorative features ; they have taken on all 
the active functions of the arc-doubleau and the 
formeret. Their union constitutes an elastic ossature, 
the weight being concentrated upon four points of 
support, which receive the impost of the arches, and 


The First Groined Vaults 


compose a stone skeleton, each unit of which has 
been cut and dressed to fill the exact place it occupies 
in the whole. 

If we compare the sections (Figs. 13 and 14) of 


the churches of Angouleme and Angers, we may 
clearly trace the filiation between these buildings, the 
one dating from the first years of the twelfth century, 
the other from some thirty or even forty years later. 
We shall also note the advance made by the Angevin 
architects in the construction of groined vaults in the 

28 Gothic Architecture 



The First Groined Vaults 29 

place of domes with pendentives, a development 


worked out by the more perfect and reasoned applica- 
tion of the same architectural principle. 

The Church of Laval, built simultaneously with 

30 Gothic Architecture 

that of Angers, or only a few years later, shows a 
further advance, not merely in the matter of form, 
but in the increased science and ingenuity of com- 
binations, and the methodical accuracy of the 

The arches which compose the ossature of the 
vaults become independent in their functions, as at 
Angers, immediately upon leaving the abacus, an 



essential characteristic of the new system. The 
lateral 'points of support are composed of piers proper 
and of clustered columns, crowned by corbelled capi- 
tals, which, by prolonging them, mark the formerets, 
the diagonal, and the transverse arches as they fall 
upon the abaci. It is easy to see in this arrange- 
ment the origin of those clustered shafts so generally 
and even excessively used in the thirteenth and 
fourteenth centuries, the main object of which was 
to conceal as far as possible the points of support. 

The First Groined Vaults 3 1 

These details, and the section (Fig. 12) showing 
the mode of construction in the vaults, demonstrate 
sufficiently that at Laval, no less than at Angers, a 
\ direct filiation exists between the dome upon pen- 
dentives and the groined and ribbed vault. 



THE new system derived from the domes upon 
pendentives, so brilliantly applied in Anjou and 
Maine in the first half of the twelfth century, was 
thenceforth the normal method of the religious 
architect. The admirable simplicity of the new 
method and its adaptability to every class of building, 
from the great abbey church to the modest chapel, 
sufficiently accounts for its rapid dissemination 
throughout Western Europe, where religious bodies 
had founded innumerable abbeys, large and small, 
of varying rules and orders, but all welded together 
by one mighty organisation. 

A long array of churches on the Angevin model 
rose, not only in the neighbouring provinces as 
Ste. Radegonde at Poitiers, Notre Dame de la Coulture 
and the nave of St. Julien at Mans, but farther afield 
towards the south. To name only the most impor- 
tant the charming Church of Thor, dedicated to Ste. 
Marie du Lac, between Avignon and the fountain of 
Vaucluse ; that of St. Sauveur at St. Macaire, near 
Bordeaux ; the nave of St. Andre at Bordeaux, begun 
in 1252 on the cupola plan, but modified and finally 

Buildings vaulted on Intersecting Arches 33 

crowned with a groined and ribbed vault ; St. 
Caprais at Agen, which shows the same modifications, 
and lastly, the immense brick nave of St. Etienne at 
Toulouse, which measures 64 feet all demonstrate 


the progression of the new principles in the second 
half of the twelfth century. 

Towards the North the advance was no less 
general. Various buildings show to what excellent 
account contemporary architects had turned the 
system of vaults on intersecting arches, recognising 



Gothic Architecture 

its admirable adaptability to different climates, 

and to the most diverse 
materials. But it was 
reserved for Angers, the 
cradle of its birth, to give 
an added perfection to this 
ingenious system. 

The Church of the Ste. 
Trinite, on the right bank 
of the Maine, built by the 
sons or pupils of those 
architects who had planned 
St. Maurice for the hill on 
the opposite shore, marks a 
fresh advance in the con- 
struction of these vaults. 
Like St. Maurice, it has 
but a single aisle, which 
is divided into three bays, 
each as nearly as possible 
square on plan. The 
system of vaulting takes 
on a greater elegance by 
the insertion of a trans- 
verse arch, with its sup- 
porting shafts, in the centre 
of each bay. This divides 
the bay into two equal 

19. PLAN OF THE CHURCH OF LA parts, and, cutting the 

diaonal ribs at their 


intersection, supports them at the critical point. 

Fig. 1 9 gives the plan of these vaults, the system 
of which was eagerly seized upon by the Northern 

Buildings vaulted on Intersecting Arches 35 
architects, and the great abbey church of Noyon 


36 Gothic Architecture 

appears to have been the first-fruits of this new 
development of the Angevin idea. 

The great abbey churches and immense cathedrals 
which were built from the second half of the twelfth 
to the middle of the thirteenth century attest the 
importance of the development carried out at Angers 
by the arrangement of their own vaults in square 
compartments. For we now find this system adopted 
in the construction of the churches or cathedrals of 
Noyon, Laon, Notre Dame at Paris, Sens, and Bourges, 
to name only acknowledged masterpieces of so-called 

The influence of the cupola, which we established 
in our first chapter, was both direct and consecutive. 
It was direct in churches built with one aisle and 
vaulted on intersecting arches, and consecutive in 
the so-called Romanesque churches, which were either 
completed or modified on the new lines by the 
substitution of vaults on intersecting arches of dressed 
stone for timber roofs. A large number of buildings 
in England, Normandy, Germany, Northern Italy, 
Switzerland, the Rhine Provinces, and those of 
Northern France bear testimony of the highest 
interest to the transformations consequent on the 
invention of the groined vault and its universal 

Architects who had been trained in the great 
abbey schools, emboldened by the successes of their 
forerunners and their own individual experience, 
raised on every hand vast cathedrals, in which every 
known development of the system was essayed with 
unequalled daring. Going on from strength to 
strength, they eventually abandoned the antique 

Buildings vaulted on Intersecting Arches 37 
traditions, and disregarding the statical conditions 

i 5 

n i i ^_ 


which ensured the solidity of the ancient buildings, 

38 Gothic Architectitre 

they invented a system of construction which is, as it 


were, merely a skeleton in stone, a stone version of 

Buildings vaulted on Intersecting Arches 39 
the timbered roof; its characteristic expression was 



40 Gothic Architecture 

the permanent strut known as the flying buttress ; its 
governing idea was equilibrium, for which it provided 
by architectural stratagems ingenious in the highest 
degree, but also extremely precarious. Its existence 
or stability depends for the most part on the quality 
of the materials and their degrees of resisting power, 
the essential organs, by which I mean those vital 
weig Jit- carry ing portions, the failure of which would 
involve the ruin of the whole, being outside the build- 
ing, and therefore exposed to all those deteriorating 
influences from which the load they bear, that is to 
say, the vaults, are protected by walls and roof. 

The great buildings constructed on these new 
principles consisted of a central nave with two, or 
even four side aisles. The huge structure depended 
for its light first upon low windows in the collateral 
portions, secondly, upon windows at a much higher 
level. Hence it became necessary to raise the 
vault of the central nave, and to give it an abut- 
ment in the form of detached semi-arches or flying 
buttresses. The crowns of these semi -arches im- 
pinged the piers at the planes of greatest pressure 
and received the collective thrust of all the ribs, 
formerets, transverse and diagonal arches. Their 
bases rested upon abutments r the strength of which 
was calculated according to the thrust they had to 



THE primitive method of vaulting adopted in the 
central provinces of France in the construction of 
churches with three aisles rendered such buildings 
of necessity low and heavy. The main aisle being 
covered by a barrel vault, supported on either side 
by a continuous half-barrel vault, the sole means of 
lighting lay in the windows of the side aisles, so 
that the nave was always gloomy in the extreme. 
The Norman architects had avoided this difficulty, 
first in their native province, and afterwards in 
England, by vaulting the subordinate aisles only, 
and by raising the lateral walls of the nave high 
enough to allow a line of windows to be introduced 
between the lean-to roofs of the side aisles and the 
nave roof, the latter being an open timber con- 
struction instead of a vault. 

The lateral gallery in the first story of Norman 
churches built on the basilican model is merely a 
development of the ancient tradition. 1 It bears the 
name of triforium because or so we are told each 

1 See L? Architecture Romane, by Ed. Corroyer ; Maison Quantin, 
Paris, 1888, chaps, i. iii. and iv. 

42 Gothic Architecture 

compartment of such an interior gallery between the 
main piers of the nave was originally divided into 
three by pillars supporting lintels or by small 
columns supporting an arcade. / 

Towards the close of the ^leventh century 
Norman architects on both sides of the Channel were 
raising vast churches, the side aisles of which bore 
above their ribbed vaults galleries after the fashion 
of the primitive basilicas. These galleries in their 
turn were covered by open timber roofs like that of 
the nave. The bays were emphasised in the nave 
and in the side aisles by transverse arches, or arcs- 
doubleaux, which served as buttresses to those of the 
main vault. But after the adoption, towards the 
middle of the twelfth century, of the Angevin 
method of vaulting for religious buildings, the 
functions of the lateral walls and of the supporting 
arches became better defined, for these walls and 
arches had now to meet the thrusts of the transverse 
as well as that of the diagonal arches, which, meet- 
ing in bundles, as it were, at each pier, gathered their 
energies at well-marked points. 

It was thus that the cross walls or arcs-doubleaux 
of the side aisles were gradually modified till they 
became detached semi-arches concealed beneath the 
outer roof of the side aisles. 

We have traced this modification in the Abbaye 
aux Dames at Caen. 1 

Fig. 24 shows us an English example. It may 
be followed out in a number of other churches in 
England, at Pavia in Italy, at Zurich in Switzer- 

1 L! Architecture Romane, by Ed. Corroyer ; Paris, Maison Quantin, 
88, chap. xvii. 

Origin of the Flying Biittress 


land, and at Basle on the Rhine, to name but a few 
of the churches in which the modification of the 
vaults was long posterior to the construction of the 
building itself. 

In France we shall find no example more deeply 
interesting than Noyon, which at the date of its 


construction (the last quarter of the twelfth century) 
formed, as it were, an epitome of the advance so far 
made by the architects of the I le-de- France. In 
this curious building we find a fusion of the antique 
tradition developed by the Normans in their tri- 
foriums, and of the Angevin methods, as manifested 
in the groined vaults derived from domes : methods 
further perfected by the example of La Ste. Trinite 

44 Gothic Architecture 

at Angers ; in other words, by the adoption of inter- 


secting arches planned on a square, the thrusts of all 
being received on the main piers, reinforced by an 

Origin of the Flying Buttress 


intermediate transverse arch. And we note the 
appearance of the detached semi-arch beneath the 
roofing of the inferior aisles merging at its springing 
into the lateral arc-doubleau^ and so resisting the 
thrust of the intersecting 
arches and transverse arches 
of the nave. 

It has been said that 
Noyon was suggested by 
Tournai, doubtless on 
account of their superficial 
affinities. But the likeness 
is merely in general aspect, 
the methods of construction 
being wholly different. At 
Tournai the apsidal tran- 
septs are vaulted upon 
transverse arches of great 
strength, and upon radiating 
semi - arches united where 
they meet by a ring of 
voussoirs set horizontally, 
and at their springing by 
vaults keyed into their mass, 
an ingenious arrangement 
which recalls the vaulting 
of the Salle des Capitaines 
over the porch of the monastery church at Moissac. 

The combination of these arcs-doubleaux, which, 
in addition to the solidity of their independent 
structure, are strongly reinforced by the massive 
circular courses of the walls, is very peculiar, for it 
dispenses altogether both with auxiliary arches and 


46 Gothic Architecture 

with abutments. Tournai, therefore, cannot be held 
to have begotten Noyon, for here we have groined 


vaults, the intersecting arqhes of ( which demand the 
reinforcement of abutments either concealed or 
apparent to sustain the thrust of these vaults over 
the lateral arcs-doubleaux. The ingenious arrange- 
ment above cited had in no sense modified the 
methods of abutment followed by the architects of 

Origin of the Flying Buttress 


the twelfth century even after the adoption of the 

vault on intersecting 

arches. THese^jis 

will be remembered, 


ing the walls and 

piers of the nave by 

c ross 

arches concealed be- 
neath the roofing of 
the side aisles. 

~~~We" find at Sois- 
sons the first appli- 
cation of an archi- 
tectural system, the 
special feature of 
which is the flying 



The south tran- 
sept of Soissons 
Cathedral was evi- 
dently suggested by 
Noyon. This is ap- 
parent in the adop- 
tion of the two- 
storied side aisle 
and in the semi- 
circular plan. But 
the method of vault- 
ing common to both 
churches has a 
greater refinement at 

4 8 

Gothic Architecture 

Soissons. Reduced to 


its simplest expression of 
strength by the attenua- 
tion of its skeleton, the 
vault still exercises its 
full thrust on those parts 
which rise above the upper 

The architect of 
Soissons was not content, 
like his brother of Noyon, 
to support the vault later- 
ally by interior arches col- 
laborating with the arcs- 
doubleaux { the triforium, 
and reinforced by an 
abutment impinging on 
the wall of the central 
nave. To him the idea 
occurred of detached semi- 
arches in open air, spring- 
ing from above the roof 
of the triforium and its 
buttresses and marking 
each bay. Thus was born 
fag. flying buttress, a feature 
frankly emphasising its 
special aim and function, 
namely, to meet the thrust 
of the main vault at its 
points of concentration. 

The flying buttress, 
in combination with the 
intersecting arch, gave 

Origin of the Flying Buttress 49 

birth to a new system of construction, a system on 
which were raised vast buildings which compel our 
admiration and demand our careful study, but should 


not invite our imitation. They are monuments to 
the ingenuity of the twelfth and thirteenth century 

1 These flying buttresses, in themselves insufficient for the task laid 
upon them, and worn by the destructive action of the weather, were 
pushed entirely out of shape by the constant pressure from within, 
the thrust of the vault being aggravated by the circular plan of the 
building, while the vaults themselves became dislocated by reason of 
their insufficient abutments. It became necessary to reconstruct the 
buttresses in 1880, to avert the total collapse of the south transept. 

The reconstruction of these flying buttresses, and of many others of 
the same period, furnishes us with a criticism ad hominem upon the 


50 Gothic Architecture 

architect, but no less are they beacons warning 
against the perils of a rationalism more apparent 
than real which their authors carried to its extreme 
limits, casting to the winds all traditional principles, 
and consequently all authority. 

It would seem as though the architects of this 
period, emboldened by such achievements as the 
churches of Noyon, Soissons, Laon, Paris, Sens, and 
Bourges, and spurred by professional emulation, went 
on from one feat of daring to another, passing from 
the triumphs of Rheims, Amiens, and Mans to the 
supreme architectural folly of Beauvais, and creating 
monuments no less amazing in dimension than in the 
statical problems grappled with, if not always solved. 



THE study of mediaeval architecture is one of the 
most fascinating of pursuits, but it is one beset with 
difficulties. The obscurity in which the origin of 
our great monuments, is buried is profound and often 

A fertile cause of error is the confusion which in 
many cases has arisen between the dates of founda- 
tion and of consecration. Very often a church was 
built and afterwards considerably modified, rather 
than actually reconstructed, on the same consecrated 

Lightning was the most frequent cause of the 
destruction, total or partial, of mediaeval churches. 
Striking the steeple, the tower, or the roof, it fired 
the timber superstructure of the nave. This in 
itself would not have been an irreparable disaster ; 
but as the timbers gave way the calcined beams 
charred the piers, and so prepared the downfall of 
the whole building, which was then either restored 
or reconstructed in the fashion of the day. Hence, 
whether we base our deductions upon more or less 

5 2 Gothic Architecture 

trustworthy records or upon contemporary readings 
of existing data, the result is too often a confusion 


among vanished monuments, or a contradiction 
between the buildings as they now exist and the 
historic records which relate to them. 

Churches and Cathedrals 53 

Nothing is easier for interested theorists than 
to post- or ante-date the structure of a building. 
They have nothing to fear from the testimony of 
writers, and, with very few exceptions, it is difficult 
to assign a precise date to the construction of great 
churches and cathedrals or to point with certainty 
to their architects. The obscurity of these great 
artists is perhaps to be accounted for by the fact 
that they were ecclesiastics. As such the honour of 
their achievements belonged not to the individual, 
but to the corporate body, the order of which they 
were members, and members moreover who had, in 
most cases, taken the vow of humility. 

Modern science, architectural and archaeological, 
has failed to throw much positive light on this 
subject. It contents itself for the most part with 
ingenious hypotheses and learned deductions which 
leave us still in doubt as to precise dates. But we 
shall at least find some sort of foothold in a careful 
architectural survey of buildings themselves. This 
should be, of course, supplemented by study of 
historic records, and such a study will convince us 
that art in the Middle Ages, as in all epochs, obeyed 
the immutable laws of filiation and transformation. 
We shall follow the artist step by step, observing his 
research, his hesitation, his errors, and even his 

These are trustworthy documents in which to 
study the origin of a building and to note its 
successive transformations, which latter were far 
more frequent than total reconstructions. For it 
was not until the beginning of the thirteenth cen- 
tury that great cathedral churches in any con- 


Gothic Architecture 

siderable numbers were conceived and continuously 
executed. 1 


1 It is possible, if not easy, to trace the architectural development of 
the Middle Ages in a good many cathedrals and churches of the twelfth 
and thirteenth centuries. \Ve have, however, confined ourselves, for 
the purposes of our present synthesis, to the churches and cathedrals of 

Churches and Cathedrals 55 

The great abbey churches founded towards the 


the royal domain, and more especially of the Ile-de-France, not only 
because they served as models for the architects of their day, but be- 
cause they illustrate in a remarkable degree the various transitions we 
desire to study. 

56 Gothic Architecture 

close of the twelfth century in the royal domain, 
but continued and finished in the early years of the 
thirteenth, still preserved a more ancient tradition. 

Laon, which is derived from Noyon and from the 
south transept of Soissons, consists of a nave with 
transepts, and of two-storied side aisles vaulted upon 
intersecting arches, above which, as at Soissons, rise 
flying buttresses, which meet the thrust of the main 

This arrangement of the side aisles proves the 
continuity of the Norman formulae, just as the 
method of construction adopted in the main vault 
demonstrates the persistent influence of the dome. 1 

The admirably constructed main vault is square 
on plan, each square containing two transverse com- 
partments, after the Angevin method as derived from 
the Aquitainian dome. Here we find indications 
that, if the builders of the Church of Laon had fully 
assimilated this method, their minds were neverthe- 
less not altogether at rest as to the functions of the 
flying buttress. This was, of course, essential to the 
piers which received the united thrust of both trans- 
verse and diagonal arches. But it was far from 
logical to reinforce the intermediate piers supporting 
nothing but the auxiliary transverse arches by abut- 
ments identical with those of the main piers. 

The illogicality so striking at Laon is absent 
from Noyon. There, on the contrary, the architects 
of the original construction had emphasised the 
functions of the main piers by buttresses of greater 
projection and solidity than those accorded to the 
secondary piers. 

1 See chap, i., " The Influence of the Cupola on Gothic Architecture." 

Churches and Cathedrals 



58 Gothic Architecture 

Notre Dame de Paris was begun towards the 
close of the twelfth century, and finished, save for 


the chapels, in the first half of the thirteenth. As 
at Laon, the Norman tradition is observed in the 
arrangement of the upper galleries of the side aisles, 
while the influence of the dome is again to be traced 

Churches and Cathedrals 



in the sex -partite groining. The same illogical 
system of abutments ob- 
tains as at Laon. 

This vast building, 
consisting of a nave and 
double side aisles of equal 
height sweeping round 
the semicircular choir, 
eems to be one of the 
first five-aisled cathedrals ; 
its grandiose arrangement, 
the boldness of its com- 
binations, and the perfec- 
tion of its detail mark the 
considerable progress made 
by the architects of the 

The method of con- 
struction here adopted has 
a peculiar significance. 
The upper internal 
galleries, vaulted on dia- 
gonal arches, and raised 
considerably above the 
level of the second side 
aisle, the boldness of the 
flying buttress, which at 
one span embraces the two 

^i , , f ,1 -37. NOTRE DAME DE PARIS. PLAN 

side aisles and forms the J 

abutments of the main vault alike prove that the 
architects of Notre Dame de Paris had adopted the 
newly discovered systems even to excess, and were 
applying them with unparalleled skill and ingenuity. 

6 Gothic Architecture 

The Norman tradition which had obtained in the 


I le-de- France passed away in the first years of the 

Churches and Cathedrals 


thirteenth century. At Chalons-sur-Marne the nave 
is flanked by two- 
storied side aisles. 
But the upper 
gallery, vaulted and 
greatly reduced in 
size, shows that the 
conventional ar- 
rangement was fast 
dying out. 

The influence of 
the dome was longer 
lived, as is shown in 
the construction of 
vaults at this period. 
We may still trace 
it at Langres in the 
domed form of the 
vaults, which, in spite 
of their rectangular 
plan, seem to be a 
reduced copy of the 
Angevin naves. 

The naves of Sens 
and of Bourges are 
also vaulted in square 
compartments. The 
thrust of the vaults 
is carried by the 
diagonal arches to 
each alternate pier, 39- NOTRE DAME DE PARIS. FLYING 


the intermediate one 

receiving only the auxiliary transverse arch already 


Gothic Architecture 

jully described^ 

again trip f^rtrrfor flying 

buttresses are all ofLequal solidity in spite of the 
varying strain. This arrangement, prudent if 
illogical, shows once more with what distrust archi- 
tects had adopted that system of exterior abutment, 
the characteristic of which is a detached arch exposed 
to all the vicissitudes of weather, and yet responsible 
for the stability of the whole edifice. 

The Cathedral of Sens marks a new phase of 


development by its suppression of the upper gallery 

over the side aisles. These are now vaulted and 

^ covered by a lean-to roof ; a flying buttress of single 

span receives the thrust of the main vault. The 

building is perfectly solid ; its construction shows 

research, though it is as illogical as that of Laon or 

of Paris ; for the exterior flying buttresses are all of 

1 equal strength, and so fail to proclaim their true 

functions, the interior thrusts varying considerably. 

The arrangement at Bourges, which appears to 
have been mainly built, if not actually finished, in 

Churches and Cathedrals 63 

the first half of the thirteenth century, differs from 

t of Sens. The structure is one of five aisles, 

64 Gothic Architecture 

and in plan recalls Notre Dame de Paris, but the 
details are very dissimilar. The inner side aisles no 
longer support a gallery, nor are they of equal 
height with the outer aisles ; they are raised so as 
to afford space for lighting (see Fig. 43). The 


main vault is sex -partite planned on squares; but 
the same illogicality exists here which we have 
already pointed out, and in connection with which 
we will risk appearing somewhat insistent, in the 
hope of directing special attention to it. It is more 
j glaring here than elsewhere, the flying buttresses 

Churches and Cathedrals 


themselves being of exaggerated dimensions and of 
double span, embracing the two side aisles. 


66 Gothic Architecture 

Both at Bourges and Sens the space between the 
summit of the archivolts and the bases of the upper 
windows, known as the frieze, or, in modern parlance, 
the triforium, becomes a purely decorative feature. 
It consists. of a narrow arcaded corridor, occupying 
in the interior of the building that portion of the 
wall space which in the exterior has been appropriated 
by the lean-to roof of the side aisles. At Sens there 
is merely a single gallery; at Bourges it becomes 
double, through the stepped arrangement of the side 
aisles (see Fig. 43), a variation in which we may 
trace an ingenious blending of the systems of Anjou 
and Poitiers with those of the Ile-de-France. 



THE Cathedral of Rheims, which was begun soon 
after the destruction of the original building by the 
fire of 1 2 1 1 , is a supreme expression of the fusion 
of the three systems those of Aquitaine, of Anjou, 
and of the Ile-de-France. It may be taken as the 
most perfect manifestation of persistent efforts to 
establish a method of construction based on equi- 
librium the equilibrium, that is to say, of a building 
vaulted on intersecting arches, the thrusts of which 
are received by exterior flying buttresses. 

The temerity, and even the dangers of such a 
system, are sufficiently demonstrated in the wonderful 
works of the thirteenth-century architects themselves. 
For, notwithstanding the skill and beauty of their 
many admirable combinations, they were unable to 
reduce their methods to scientific formulae. The 
statical power of their structures remained an 
uncertain quantity, determined by the durability of 
the material and its exposure or non-exposure to 
the weather, the interior skeleton being formed of 
the same material as the exterior. 

The perils inherent in such a system are more 


Goth ic A rch itectu re 


apparent at Rheims than elsewhere, because of the 
colossal proportions of the building. The arrange- 
ment of the flying but- 
tresses, however, is more 
logical than at Laon, 
Paris, Sens, and Bourges, 
by reason of the quadri- 
partite arrangement of 
the main vault. The 
I \ thrusts being equally dis- 
/tributed among the sup- 
/ porting piers, each flying 

; \buttress performs an iden- 
jtical office ; their equal 
Jstrength and solidity is 
/therefore perfectly appro- 
/ priate and logical. But 
/ though theoretically cor- 
\ rect in its disposition of 
I flying buttresses of equal 
/ strength to meet thrusts 
\ of equal strength, the 
method is vitiated by its 
inherent weakness as a 
system of abutment. The 
fragility of the flying 
buttress exposed it to 
two grave dangers, active 

44. RHEIMS CATHEDRAL. PLA^ and passive ', active, tak-' 

ing into account the con- 
stant strain upon it as" an abutment ; passive, in 
regard to the gradual reduction of its solidity by- 
exposure to weather. In support of this statement, 

Cathedrals of the Thirteenth Century 69 

it is only necessary to refer to the restorations which 
it has been found necessary to make within the last 
few years, to preserve the nave. The flying buttresses 
have been strengthened from below, a proceeding 
without which the collapse of the huge building 
would have been inevitable. 

But we shall find much to call for unqualified 
admiration at Rheims in the grandiose conception 
of the work and in its powerful execution, in the 
magnificent arrangement of its eastern facade, and 
in the perfect harmony of the ornamentation, where 
sculpture, capitals, friezes, crockets, and floriations are 
so many types of mediaeval decorative art at its best. 

The Cathedral of Amiens, which dates from about 
1 2 20, and is one of the largest as well as one of the 
most admired of Gothic masterpieces, is directly 
founded upon that of Rheims. The plan is on the 
same lines, with this exception, that at Amiens the 
choir is of greater importance relatively to the nave, 
and that the piers and points of support are weaker 
and much more lofty. 

The Remois architects, while exercised by the 
problems of equilibrium which their system involved, 
sought to minimise its dangers, which they recognised 
no less fully than their predecessors, by prudently 
avoiding all false bearings. It will be easily seen by 
a comparison of the two sections (Figs. 45 and 48) 
that the builders of Amiens were troubled by no 
such misgivings, or that they were at least more 
venturesome if not more accomplished. They_did_ 
not hesitate to base the columns which received the 
crowns of the flying buttresses on a corbel arrange- 
ment which had no solid bearing, as may be seen by 

7 Gothic Architecture 

following the direction of the dotted line X in Fig. 


48. The boldness, or rather the imprudence of such 

Cathedrals of the Thirteenth Century 71 


7 2 Gothic Architecture 

an arrangement is patent, for the failure of any 
one of the courses, or the decay of any part of the 

pier into which the 
corbels are keyed, 
would necessarily 
\/nvolve a rupture in 
the flying buttresses, 
on which thestability 
of the main vault 
depends. The dis- 
integration of the 
whole building and 
its total ruin could 
be the only result. 
The perils of such 
combinations, or 
rather such tours 
de force of equi- 
librium, are exem- 
plified at Beauvais. 
The architects who 
built the choir, about 
it on that of Amiens, 
determined to raise 
a monument which 
should surpass, both 
in plan and elevation, 
all the structures of 
their epoch. They 
increased the breadth of the choir and of its bays, 
raising, in the latter, intermediate piers on the 
crowns of the lower archivolts, thus dividing the upper 



>~~! y y -if\. 


Cathedrals of the Thirteenth Century 73 
bays, and at the same time strengthening the vault by 


auxiliary transverse arches. They exaggerated the 
height of the archivolts and of the large windows, 

74 Gothic Architecture 

and diminished their thickness, in order to give greater 
elegance and lightness, and the main vault rose to a 
height of more than 160 feet above the ground level. 
This tremendous elevation, the exaggeration of which 
in proportion to the width of the nave is striking, 
necessitated a complicated system of flying buttresses 
surpassing in boldness all that had gone before. The 
section in Fig. 5 I will give some idea of what has 
been justly described as an architectural folly. It 
is astonishing that the structure should have stood as 
it has done, taking into account the false bearings 
of the intermediate piers, here again shown by the 
dotted line X (Fig. 51). 

These rest for half of their thickness on off-sets 
from the piers, which, proving unequal to the strain, 
have been temporarily stayed, and must eventually 
be consolidated. 

The choir, however, was finished about 1270, 
and stood for several years. But dislocations then 
declared themselves. The forces so elaborately 
balanced lost their equilibrium, and on the 2pth 
November 1284 the vault fell, dragging down with 
it the flying buttresses, and carrying havoc through 
the rest of the building. In the reconstruction which 
followed it was thought imperative to double the 
points of support in the arcades both of the main 
and side aisles, and to reinforce the flying buttresses 

iron chains. 

During the thirteenth century a number of 
cathedrals were raised all over Europe on the model 
of the great buildings of Northern France, and more 
especially of Amiens, which seems to have roused 
a great enthusiasm ; these were, however, of far 

Cathedrals of the Thirteenth Centiiry 75 

more modest dimensions. They had neither the 
exaggerated height nor the structural audacities of 


their exemplars. Few of these churches and 
cathedrals, the reconstruction of which on the new 

76 Gothic Architecture 

system generally began with the choir, which, was 


Cathedrals of the Thirteenth Century 77 

added to the primitive nave, were completed by 
those who initiated their erection. The most highly 


favoured in this respect were finished in the course 
of the fourteenth century ; but in the greater number 

78 Gothic Architecture 

of cases the work dragged slowly on, and reached 


its end some two centuries after its inauguration. 
Reconstructive undertakings were constantly impeded 

Cathedrals of the Thirteenth Century 79 

by wars or social convulsions, which either hampered 
or entirely cut off the resources of bishops and 
architects, their promoters. Such interruptions were 
of great service to modern archaeological study, 
offering as they do distinct evidence of the various 
transformations which were successively accomplished 
from the so-called Romanesque period to the Gothic. 

The majority of these great buildings, which show 
traces of the vicissitudes through which they passed, 
bear a strong likeness to each other, and vary only 
in detail, according to the skill of their constructors. 

The peculiar interest of Chartres centres in its 
remarkable statuary ; it has, however, other features 
which command attention, such as the rose window 
y of the north, transept and the design of the flying 
buttresses. These consist of three arches, one above 
the other, the two lower ones being connected by 
colonnettes, radiating from a centre, so that the lower 
arch is related to the upper, as the nave of a wheel 
. is to the felloes, the colonnettes forming the spokes. 

At Mans the arrangement of the choir is so far 
more remarkable in that it is extremely unusual, or 
indeed, in its way unique. \The flying buttresses are 
planned in the form of a Y (see A on the plan Fig. 
53), thus affording space for windows in the exterior 
wall, to light the vast circular ambulatory, which at 
Mans is of unusual importance, and surrounds the 
ofioir with a double aisle. The flying buttresses 
'which rise above the arcs-doubleaux^ bi-furcated (B 
on the plan), are over-attenuated in section ; their 
exaggerated height and proportionate slenderness 
threaten to make them spring, so that it has been 
found necessary to bind them together by ties and 


Gothic Architecture 


Cathedrals of the Thirteenth Century 81 

iron chains. Such expedients are a sufficient 
criticism of the ingenious but precarious system 
adopted by the architects of Mans. 


The influence of the Ile-de-France in Normandy 
is manifest in the arrangement of choirs and apsidal 
chapels in Norman cathedrals of the thirteenth 
century. The Cathedral of Cdutances, a monument 


82 Gothic Architecture 

of the eleventh century, was rebuilt in the early 


Cathedrals of the Thirteenth Century 83 

years of -the thirteenth century under the impulse 
given by Northern France to 
the architecture of the period. 
It is in the choir that we 
clearly trace this influence, in 
the double columns of the 
apse, and the ingenious dis- 
position of its collateral vaults. 
But the fagade is purely 
Norman, not merely in general 
design, but in the details of 
the composition, facsimiles of 
which may be found in 

The Cathedral of Dol in 
Brittany, one of the great 
churches of the thirteenth 
century, seems to have escaped 
the influences of the Northern 
innovation. Its general plan, 
its square apse lighted by 
large windows, the details 
of its architecture and orna- 
mentation, all proclaim its 
affinity to the great churches 
which rose contemporane- 
ously with it on either side 
of the Channel, in Nor- 
mandy, and in England. It 
is very probable that it was 
built by the same architects 
or their immediate disciples, 5 6. COUTANCES CATHEDRAL. 
working on the more ancient 


8 4 

Goth ic A rch itectu re 

methods of the Norman schools founded by 
Lanfranc at Canterbury towards the close of 
the eleventh century, on the model of those he 
had established in France at the famous Abbaye 
du Bee. 



THE Cathedrals of Rheims, Amiens, and Beauvais 
excited extraordinary enthusiasm in their time, not 
only in the provinces of France, but among neigh- 
bouring nations, notably in England, Belgium, 
Germany, Sweden, Spain, and Italy. 

This enthusiasm was less fervid in the provinces 
farthest from the royal domain ; but even in these 
outlying districts several remarkable buildings rose 
in the first half of the thirteenth century, constructed 
on the new lines. 

In 1233 the Cathedral of Bazas was begun, and, 
unlike the majority of such undertakings, was carried 
through and finished in a comparatively short time. 

The Cathedral of Bayonne, a contemporary 
building, shared the fate of Meaux, Troyes, and 
Auxerre. It was completed, with one tower only, 
in the sixteenth century. In 1248 the foundations 
of Clermont Cathedral were laid. The plan provided 
for six or seven towers, but the choir was the only 
portion finished in the thirteenth century. The 
transept and four towers, together with a portion of 


Gothic Architecture 

the nave, were completed in the following century, 
and the work was then abandoned until the reign of 
Napoleon III., who caused it to be again taken up. 
The Cathedral of Limoges was begun in 1273, under 
the direct inspiration of Notre Dame at Amiens. 


Down to our own times it has had to content itself 
with a choir, a transept, and the suggestions of a 
nave, the last of which has lately been completed. 
At Rodez a greater perseverance was shown, and 
the work went steadily on from 1277 until the 
Renascence, at which period, however, the two 
western towers were left unfinished, notwithstanding 

Cathedrals and Churches 87 

a contemporary description of their magnificence, 


fhich, in a truly Gascon vein, compares them to the 


Gothic Architecture 

Egyptian pyramids, among other world - renowned 

"In 1272 Toulouse and Narbonne entered the 
lists against Amiens, imitating its plan, and propos- 


ing to at least equal it in dimensions. Neither of 
these undertakings proved happy. Archbishop 
Maurice of Narbonne died the same year the works 
were begun ; his successors took but a lukewarm 
interest in their progress. In 1320 the sea re- 

Cathedrals and Churches 89 

treated, leaving the port on which the wealth of the 
inhabitants mainly depended high and dry. For- 
tunately the choir with its noble vault 130 feet high 
was already completed, but the transept walls were 
left to fall into ruins. At Toulouse Bishop Bertrand 
de 1'Isle-Jourdain lived just long enough to carry 
the work above the triforium of the choir ; it was 
then abandoned till the fifteenth century. His 
successors squandered the revenues of their vast 
diocese so shamelessly in pleasures and display that 
Popes Boniface VIII. and John XXII., scandalised 
at their disorders, dismembered their territory and 
subdivided it into four bishoprics, granting to the 
Bishop of Toulouse the title of archbishop by way 
of compensation. But this compensation was of 
small avail to future zealous prelates for the carrying 
out of Bertrand's projects, and the choir of Toulouse 
was never finished. It falls short of its predestined 
height of i 30 feet by 90, and the transept was not 
even begun. 

" The Cathedrals of Lyons, of St. Maurice at 
Vienne, and of St. Etienne at Toul have~ affinities 
more or less direct with the great architectural 
movement. At Bordeaux the building of a great 
cathedral was contemplated at the time of the 
English occupation ; but the choir would never have 
been finished but for the liberality of King Edward I. 
and of Pope Clement V., who had formerly been 
archbishop of the town." * 

The great cathedrals constructed in England in 
the thirteenth century bear witness to the expansion 

1 Antliyme St. Paul, Ilistoire Momimentale de la Prance ; Paris 
Hachette and Co., 1884. 

Gothic Architecture 

of French art on the lines already laid down in the 
preceding century by the teaching and achievements 
of the Norman monkish architects who had followed 
William the Conqueror to Great Britain. 1 

English builders assimilated the constructive 
principles of the architects of Anjou and of the 
He -de -France. In the numerous cathedrals they 
raised from the thirteenth to the close of the 
fifteenth century it is easy to trace the original 
characteristics of French art throughout all the 
transformations or adaptations by which its methods 
were modified in accordance with British usages and 

This influence is very apparent in the Cathedrals 
of York, Ely, Wells, Salisbury, and Canterbury, the 
last of which was constructed from the plans of an 
architect or master - mason, known as William of 
Sens ; in that of Lichfield, where the spires of the 
facade recall those of Coutances in Normandy, and 
above all, at Lincoln, one of the most beautiful of 
English cathedrals. Here we have perhaps the 
most strongly - marked instance of the steady and 
continuous filiation between the buildings of France 
and England during the so-called Gothic period. 
It is quite possible that they were the work of the 

1 This is a very summary way of dismissing the vexed question of 
French influence upon English architecture. The undeniable fact that 
wherever a French architect can be identified as the author of an 
English building William of Sens at Canterbury, for instance the 
work he did differs entirely in character from contemporary English 
work is enough to refute much of the claim made for France. The 
principles of Gothic architecture were the common property of the 
two countries, and by each were developed according to their lights. 

Cathedrals and Chiirches 91 

same architects, as they certainly were carried out 
by pupils or disciples of the same master-builders. 1 


1 It is difficult to believe that Mons. Corroyer is in earnest in com- 
paring the spires of Lichfield to those of Coutances, or the central 
tower of Lincoln to that of the same French cathedral. Mons. Corroyer 
appears to be unacquainted with the Jine of filiation between English 
spires and towers, and so looks, as a matter of course, for a French 
mother to such as strike his fancy. ED. 

9 2 

Gothic Architecture 


Cathedrals and Churches 93 

Lincoln Cathedral, founded in the eleventh 
century, and finished in 1092, shared the fate of so 
many other timber -roofed buildings of the period. 
The greater part of it was destroyed by fire in 1124. 
It was rebuilt and enlarged by St. Hugh in 
accordance with the new ideas he had brought with 
him from France, a very natural consequence of his 
supervision, when we take into account that as 
mandatory of Pope Gregory VII. he had been 
Bishop of Grenoble. The church was again partly 
destroyed by an earthquake in 1185. It was 
then rebuilt, enlarged, and completed by Bishop 
Grossetete, an Englishman by birth, who had, how- 
ever, been educated and brought up in France in the 
early part of the thirteenth century, and had carried 
over with him to his native land the essence of the 
grand and noble inspirations which marked that 
marvellous era. 

The lantern - tower at the intersection of the 
western transept, which had fallen in 1235, was 
either rebuilt or finished by Bishop Grossetete about 
1 240. In its general outline and in detail it 
recalls the great lantern-tower of Coutances in 
Normandy, which seems also to have served as 
model for that of St. Ouen at Rouen in the 
fourteenth century. 

The vast and magnificent Cathedral of Lincoln is 
an admirable subject for comparative study. Its 
architecture combines most strikingly the charac- 
teristics of the two nations. It blends in one 
harmonious whole the massive solidity of English 
structure overlaid with detail, formed by lines 
vertical, rigid, dry, and hard as iron, and the mingled 

94 Gothic Architecture 

grace and strength of French architecture, which 


may fitly be compared with gold, in its union of 

Cathedrals and Churches 


the supple and the durable, of solidity and power 
of resistance equal to those of the less precious 


metal, with an adaptability to artistic ends far 

In the fagade and the west towers English charac- 
teristics predominate, but the choir and the apse 

96 Gothic Architecture 

are French in composition, and most probably in 
execution, as is also the presbytery, in which 
both the arrangement and the details of the 
bays recall those of the lateral fagades of Bourges. 1 
All three are veritable masterpieces, worthy of 
the most brilliant period of French mediaeval 

In Belgium French influence manifested itself 
so early as the first half of the thirteenth century 
in the building of the remarkable Church of Ste. 
Gudule at Brussels. Up to this period the methods 
of the Rhenish schools had obtained in the Low 
Countries, and the setting aside of these methods in 
favour ot the new system of France is significant of 
the high repute of the latter throughout Western 
Europe. Further evidence to this effect is to be 
found in the great churches of Ghent, Tongres, 
Louvain, and Bruges among others, which were 

1 Here Mons. Corroyer directly traverses the opinion of Viollet-le- 
duc, who could see no ground whatever for ascribing a French origin 
to the choir of Lincoln. Indeed, the conception of that choir, and 
nearly all its details, are not only unlike, they are opposed to those of 
French contemporary examples. Here are the words of the great 
French architect : "After the most careful examination I cannot find, 
in any part of the Cathedral of Lincoln, neither in the general design, 
nor in any part of the system of architecture adopted, nor in the details 
of ornament, any trace of the French school of the twelfth century (the 
lay school, from 1 170 to 1220), so plainly characteristic of the Cathedrals 
of Paris, Noyon, Senlis, Chartres, Sens, and even Rouen. . . . The 
construction is English, the profiles of the mouldings are English, the 
ornaments are English, the execution of the work belongs to the 
English school of workmen of the beginning of the thirteenth century." 
Gentleman 's Magazine for May 1861 Letter to " Sylvanus Urban." 
The date of Lincoln choir is known. It belongs to the last years of the 
twelfth century, and so anticipates such French work as can show 
analogies with it, Le Mans, for instance, where the work in question 
dates from 1210-1220. ED. 

Cathedrals and Churches 9 7 

either built between 1235 and 1300, or at any rate 
begun during this period, to be completed in the 
fourteenth century and even later. 


Ste. Gudule at Brussels was begun about 
1226; but only the choir and the transept were 


98 Gothic Architecture 

finished by 1275. The nave was built in the 
fourteenth century, together with the towers of the 
west front, which, however, were not finally completed 
till the following century, or perhaps the sixteenth. 
Several chapels, the windows of which are filled 
with magnificent painted glass, date from the same 
period as these towers. 

French influence is no less patent at Cologne, 
which is undoubtedly the daughter of Amiens. The 
opinion of a German writer is of special interest on 
this point. 

" The famous Cathedral of Cologne, one of the 
masterpieces of the German School, is a direct 
emanation from French tradition. The choir is a 
replica of that of Amiens; it was dedicated in 1322, 
after which the work of nave and transepts was 
carried on continuously ; the nave measures 43 feet 
in width, and 1 40 in height ; the total length of the 
church is 503 feet. The two towers of the west 
front have been completed in our own times from 
the original designs, it is said. The general effect, 
whether of interior or exterior, is certainly not equal 
to that of the finest French cathedrals, but the style 
is rich and pure, and touches perfection in the treat- 
ment of details." l 

In Scandinavian countries French art, which 
had already manifested itself at Ripen in Jutland 
during the so-called Romanesque period, gives us a 
fresh instance of its expansive power in an im- 
portant Swedish building which dates from the end 
of the thirteenth century. The Cathedral of Upsala 
has this peculiarity, that it was designed and even 

1 W. Liibke, Essai d'Histoire de I'Art, 

Cathedrals and Churches 99 

begun by a French architect, one Estienne de Bonneuil, 


ioo Gothic Architecture 

who, on 3Oth August 1287, received the royal 
authority to betake himself to Upsala to construct 
the cathedral. 1 

In Spain the chief monuments of thirteenth- 
century Gothic architecture which betray the in- 
fluence of France are the great five-aisled Church 
of Toledo, the cathedral at Badajoz, and the 
front of St. Mark's at Seville. French influence 
again is manifest in the cathedrals of Leon, of 
Palencia, of Oviedo, of Pampeluna, of Valencia, and 
of Barcelona, founded at the end of the thirteenth 
century and continued in the fourteenth, as well as 
in the churches of Torquemado, Bilbao, Bellaguer, 
Monresa, and Guadalupe, all dating partly from the 
fourteenth century. 

The Cathedral of Burgos, begun in the first half 
of the thirteenth century, shows a striking analogy 
with French buildings of about the same period in 
the plan and construction of its flying buttresses 
and windows as well as in the decorative sculpture 
of its portals. The lower stories of the west front 
seem to date from the fourteenth century, but the 
open-work spires which crown it were not finished 
until the fifteenth. In this curious building we find 
elements taken from France, mingled with decorative 
passages of pure Italian, and with others character- 
istically Spanish in their use of motives only to 
be explained by the vitality of the Saracenic 

Innumerable churches were built in Italy during 
the so-called Gothic period, principally towards its 

1 Charles Lucas, Les Architectes fran$ais a V Etranger (from the 
journal, V Architecture). 

Cathedrals and Churches 




Gothic Architecture 

conclusion. Not to speak of the famous Cathedrals 
of Milan and Florence, nor of S. Anthony, nor of 
the Cathedral of Padua, the Cathedrals of Siena and 
Orvieto seem especially to lean away from antique 


and Lombard traditions towards those of France, a 
characteristic especially notable in the decorative 
details of their west fronts, which recall in many ways 
the work of French architects during the thirteenth 
and fourteenth centuries. 

Cathedrals and Churches 


It is the opinion of some archaeologists that the 
true parent of the Cathedrals of Siena and Orvieto 


was the Church of St. Francis at Assisi, which is 
not far distant. Now St. Francis of Assisi is 
undeniably French in origin. This church, which 

104 Gothic Architecture 

was founded in 1228 to receive the remains of St. 
Francis who died in 1226, was possibly completed 
as to the lower structure in the thirteenth century ; 
but it is improbable, to say the least, that this 
completion should have been the work of a German, 
for at this period Gothic architecture was still in 
embryo in Germany, while in France it had reached 
its most glorious development. The upper church 
seems to be later in date by a century ; we may 
clearly trace its affinities with French art in the 
system of construction, which has all the character- 
istics peculiar to that which prevailed in the south 
of France at the close of the thirteenth and the 
beginning of the fourteenth century. Of this system 
the Church of Albi is the most finished type. 1 Assisi, 
in its single aisle, in its buttresses, both as to their 
interior projections and their exterior half-turreted 
forms, shows a complete analogy with the French 
Albigeois church. 

1 See chap. ix. "Albi," etc. 



" THE thirteenth century was so prolific in religious 
architecture as to leave little scope to those which 
followed. But even had the growth of great religi- 
ous monuments been less rapid at this period, the 
wars which convulsed France in the fourteenth and 
fifteenth centuries would have paralysed such under- 
takings as the building of great cathedral churches. 
The religious buildings actually completed in the 
fourteenth century are rare ; still rarer are those 
which date from the fifteenth. In those stormy 
days enterprise was confined to the completion of 
unfinished churches, and the modification, restora- 
tion, or enlargement of twelfth and thirteenth 
century buildings. It was not until the close of the 
fifteenth and opening of the sixteenth century, 
when France was beginning to recover its former 
power, that a fresh impulse was given to religious 
architecture ; even then, however, the Gothic tradi- 
tion persisted, though in a corrupt and bastard form. 
Many of the great cathedrals were finished, and a 
number of small churches, which had been destroyed 


Gothic Architecture 

during the wars, or had fallen into decay through 
long neglect, consequent on the poverty of the 


community, were either rebuilt or restored. The 
movement was, however, presently arrested by the 

Churches of the i^tk and i$th Centuries 107 

Reformation, when war, fire, and pillage again 
destroyed or mutilated most of the newly completed 
religious buildings. The havoc wrought by this last 
upheaval was in its nature irrevocable, for when 
order once more reigned at the close of the sixteenth 
century, the Renascence had swept away the last 
traces of the national art ; and though superficially 
the system of construction which prevailed in French 
churches of the thirteenth century still obtained, the 
genius which had presided at their construction was 
extinct and its memory despised." 1 

The Church of St. Ouen at Rouen, except for 
the west front and its towers, which are modern, is 
a typical example of the rare religious buildings 
constructed in the north of France during the 
fourteenth century. The arrangement of these 
churches varies, inasmuch as, while in general they 
follow the methods of construction adopted by the 
Northern architects of the thirteenth century, their 
special characteristic is a refinement or rather an 
attenuation of the piers, less by actual reduction 
of their section than by a diminution of their 
apparent bulk. This was effected by multiplying 
the clustered shafts, the slenderness of which was 
still further exaggerated by the prodigality of the 
mouldings, and the over-hollowness of their profiles. 
These profiles and mouldings rise from the base to 
the summit, and in the fourteenth century mark the 
spring of the arches by rings of sculpture, crowned 
with rudimentary abaci. These latter details were 
the last traces of a tradition which was to finally 

1 Viollet-le-Duc, Dictionnaire raisonne de V Architecture fran^aise, 
etc., vol. i. 


Goth ic A rch itectu re 

disappear in the fifteenth century. Thenceforward 
the lines of the intersecting arches of the vault, as of 


the longitudinal and transverse arches, run down 
without interruption to the base of the piers, where 
we find a complex faggot of mouldings crossing and 

Churches of the i^th and i$th Centuries 109 

recrossing, and showing little beyond the technical 
dexterity of the carver. 

The main preoccupation of the architects of this 
period seems to have been the reduction of solid 
surfaces so as to give full play to the soaring effect 
of their airy shafts and vaults. The walls disappear, 
save below the windows, which now occupy the 
entire space of each bay. The triangular divisions 
of the vault are concealed by a serried network of 
supplementary ribs, for the most part useless save 
as decorations. But it must in justice be re- 
membered that to this exaggeration of the window 
spaces we owe the growth of the beautiful art of 
painting on glass. This art, the admirable fitness 
of which for decorative purposes can hardly be 
over-estimated, had already manifested itself in the 
twelfth and thirteenth centuries. In the interval 
from that period to the Renascence it produced its 
grandest masterpieces. 1 

It must be borne in mind that the great con- 
structive and reconstructive movement which had 
manifested itself throughout Western Europe, and 
notably in the north of France, by great buildings, 
the distinguishing characteristics of which are vaulted 
roofs and flying buttresses, had made little progress 
in Southern France. The few exceptions of im- 
portance are Bazas, Bayonne, Auch, Toulouse, and 
Narbonne. The Southern architects, as we have 
already stated, adhered to the ancient tradition, 
whether influenced by impulses of reaction, resist- 
ance, or defiance. Their conservatism is compre- 
hensible enough in view of the strong Gallo-Roman 

1 See chap. xii. " Decorative Painting on Walls and Glass." 

1 1 o Goth ic A rch itectu re 

tendencies which governed architectural activity 
throughout the district. The builders of the thir- 
teenth and fourteenth centuries did indeed accept 
the Angevin intersecting arch, an invention the 
admirable simplicity of which was its own recom- 
mendation. But this concession was without pre- 
judice to their broad principles. In the general 
arrangement of their religious buildings they still 
adhered to Roman usage, and to such models as the 
Basilica of Constantine and the tepidarium of the 
Baths of Caracalla. 1 

Towards the close of the thirteenth, and through- 
out the fourteenth century, a large number of churches 
were built in the South, consisting of a single wide 
and lofty aisle, vaulted on intersecting arches, the 
thrusts of which were received by buttresses of great 
bulk and prominence in the interior of the building, 
but very slightly indicated on the exterior. The 
spaces between the massive interior buttresses, on 
either side of the aisle, were occupied by a series of 
chapels, supporting disconnected tribunes or a con- 
tinuous corridor. The two great churches of the 
Cordeliers and of the Jacobins at Toulouse were 
built in the brick of the country in the second half 
of the thirteenth century. These have two aisles, 
according to the Dominican usage of --the period, but 
the exterior arrangement is the same as in the one- 
aisled churches. The Churches of St. Bertrand at 
Comminges, and those of Lodive, Perpignan, Con- 
dom, Carcassonne, Gaillac, Montpezat, Moissac, etc., 
were built in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries 

1 V Architecture Roinane, by Ed. Corroyer ; Paris, Maison Quantin, 
chaps, iii. and vii, 

Churches of the i^th and i$th Centuries 1 1 1 
on the single-aisled plan. That of Perpignan has 

_ _ . 

< L ~" L ~^ ' " ~~l I 



Gothic Architecture 

this peculiarity ; its vaults, though supported on 
intersecting arches, are built in accordance with 
Roman methods, which further prevail both in the 
forms of the terra-cotta materials, and in the manner 
of their application. The reins of the vault, which 
measures some 53 feet across, are ornamented by 
terra-cotta jars embedded in an admirably prepared 
lime mortar of great durability. The actual roof 
lies without the support of any intervening structure 
of timber upon the extrados of the vault. This 
consists of voussoirs of Roman brick, retained by a 
layer of terra-cotta upon which the tiles, also of the 
antique Roman form, are laid. This arrangement 
protects the vault from any infiltration of water due 
to the rupture of the tiles, an absolutely necessary 
precaution, if the former was to retain its stability. 

The Cathedral of Ste. Cecile at Albi is a monu- 
mental type of the single-aisled system. It is one 
of the largest and most important of Southern 
buildings constructed on the traditional principles of 
the ancient Romans. The vast single aisle, some 
60 feet wide, is built entirely of brick, with the ex- 
ception of the window tracery, the choir screen, and 
the south porch. Here we may study constructive 
principles no less simple than sagacious, combining 
all the necessary conditions of stability. The points 
of support and abutments of the vault on intersecting 
arches are all enclosed by the outer wall ; they are 
thus protected from the accidents of climate, and 
their durability is almost indefinitely assured. 

The foundations of the cathedral, which was 
dedicated to St. Cecilia, were laid in 1282, on the 
ruins of the ancient Church of Ste. Croix. The 

Churches of the ami i^th Centuries 113 
main building was finished towards the close of the 


fourteenth century, and the whole as it now stands 
was completed in the last years of the fifteenth and 


1 14 Gothic Architecture 

early part of the sixteenth century, by the addition 
of the baldacchino of the southern porch, or prin- 
cipal entrance, of the stone rood loft, and choir 


screen, the stalls of carved wood, and the fresco 
decorations which adorn the whole building. This 
varied workmanship renders Albi one of the most 
instructive of studies in connection with French 
decorative art, the successive developments being 

CJmrches of the i^tk and i^tJi Centuries 115 

marked by monumental examples of the highest 
order, inspired or created by divers influences. The 
architecture is of the Southern French type, as far 
as the main building is concerned ; in essentials, the 
same type prevails in the magnificent porch known 
as the baldaquin, in the choir screen, and in the 
rood loft ; but in these later additions the inspiration 
of Northern art at the close of the fifteenth and 
beginning of the sixteenth century is also perceptible. 
The statuary and sculptured ornaments of wood 
and stone are Flemish ; the paintings indicate their 
Italian origin by their crudity of colour and vulgarity 
of motive. 

The Cathedral of Albi has a special interest as 
being one of the most curious examples of Southern 
Gothic architecture in the fourteenth century. It 
has a further peculiarity, inasmuch as it was not 
only a church, as it still is, but a fortress. Such 
a combination is readily accounted for by a study 
of the epoch following on the fierce struggle which 
ended in the extermination of the Albigenses, and 
of the social and political events resulting therefrom. 

The interior is purely ecclesiastical, of the most 
beautiful type of its time ; the grandeur of its 
dimensions, its structural perfection, and the mag- 
nificence of its decoration, are unsurpassed in their 

The exterior is that of a fortress. Its intention 
is proclaimed by the buttresses rising from the 
glacis of the base to form, as it were, flanking 
towers ; by the arrangement of the bays, or rather 
curtains, crowned by an embattled machicolated 
parapet, which unite these towers, and by the grandiose 


Gothic A rch itecture 

military character of the architecture. The formid- 
able aspect of the building is much enhanced by the 


western tower, in effect a donjon keep, completing 
the system of defence by its connection with the 
fortifications of the archbishop's palace, which in 

Churches of the 141/1 and i$th Centuries 1 1 7 

their turn are carried on to ramparts, crowning the 
escarpments which, to the north, rise from the Tarn. 1 

A few fortified churches still exist such, for ex- 
ample, as Les Stes. Maries (Bouches du Rhone), 
which dates from the thirteenth century. Albi was 
not a solitary instance of this usage. The Churches 
of Beziers, Narbonne, and many others of the thir- 
teenth and fourteenth century had been surrounded 
by defensive outworks rendered necessary by re- 
ligious strife. The buildings thus transformed into 
strongholds served the further purpose of sheltering 
fugitive populations in times of panic. 

One of the most interesting of such examples is 
the Church of Esnandes, not far from Rochelle, on 
the creek of Aiguillon, a building which dates from 
the twelfth century. It was fortified at the beginning 
of the fifteenth century to resist the incursions of the 

As we have already remarked on the authority of 
a learned writer, the buildings of the fifteenth century 
are less numerous than those of the fourteenth. Those 
concerned in such undertakings were content to 
finish churches begun at an earlier period, or to 
attempt their reconstruction, frequently on plans 
which it was impossible to carry out, so that many 
buildings were left incomplete. We may instance a 
very famous monument, the Abbey of Mont St. 
Michel. The Romanesque choir fell into ruins in 
1421, during the Hundred Years' War. In 1452 
Cardinal Guillaume d'Estouteville undertook the 
reconstruction of the church on a scale so consider- 
able that the choir only was completed during the 

1 See "Civil Architecture," Part IV. chap. ii. 


Gothic Architecture 


Churches of the i^th and i$th Centuries 119 

first years of the sixteenth century. 1 This part of 
the church shows the effect of the decadence of 
which there had been indications so early as the 
close of the thirteenth century. Certain of the 
arrangements are very ingenious, notably that of the 
triforium, which rests on the reins of the lower vault, 
and forms, as seen 
from outside, a series 
of small apses stand- 
ing out from the 
main wall. But 
the mason's work is 
negligent, especially 
in the flying but- 
tresses, which were 
so carefully treated 
by the architects of 
the thirteenth cen- 
tury. The lines are 
attenuated by a multi- 
plicity of mouldings 
to an almost thread- 
like slenderness ; the 

spring of the arches is 76. ABBEY OF MONT ST. MICHEL. PLAN 
undefined by capitals, OF THE CHOIR ABOVE 
and the complicated network of the fenestration adds 
to the wire-drawn effect, and further diminishes the 
proportions of the building. There is little to admire 
but the extreme manual dexterity of the carvers. 
The carving of the granite, the only stone used at 
Mont St. Michel 2 save for the arcadings of the cloister, 

1 Description de V Abbaye du Mont St. Michel el des ses Abords, by Ed. 
Corroyer ; Paris, 1877. 2 See Part II., " Monastic Architecture." 

120 Gothic Architecture 

is very remarkable, as is also the ornamental sculp- 


Churches of the i^th and i$th Centuries 121 

ture ; this is executed with extreme skill, in spite of 
the excess of detail with which it is loaded. 

The decadence of Gothic architecture was mani- 
fest even at the close of the thirteenth century in 
such tours de force as the choir of St. Peter at 
Beauvais, and the Church of St. Urbain at Troyes. 
During the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries build- 
ings or parts of buildings were constructed with 
remarkable skill, but the noble simplicity which was 
the strength of thirteenth-century architecture was 
no more. By the close of the fifteenth century a 
studied mannerism had taken its place. The 
western doorway of Alengon Cathedral is a typical 
example of this development, the defects of which 
were still further accentuated in the following 

" The qualities of the architecture of the decad- 
ence must be sought not in the construction, but in 
the decoration of churches ; here we may freely 
admire the happy detail and patient execution which 
mark the work of carvers and limners during the 
last two centuries of the Middle Ages." x 

Gothic architecture put forth its expansive force 
at the close of the twelfth and during the thirteenth 
century, not only throughout Western Europe, but 
even in Eastern countries, where monuments still 
survive of the highest interest to us as the work of 
monkish architects who came from France in the 
wake of the first Crusaders. The modifications and 
enlargements of famous buildings in the Holy Land 
towards the close of the twelfth century show 

1 Anthyme St. Paul, Histoirc Monumentak dc la France ; Paris, 

122 Gothic Architecture 

evident traces of their influence, which is further 


Churches of the i^th and 1 5th Centitnes 123 

manifested in certain structures of Rhodes and Cyprus 
from the thirteenth to the fifteenth century, in which 
Western and more especially French types have 
served as models. 

" It will hardly be disputed that the prolonged 
sojourn of the Crusaders in the Levant, the teachings 
of their architects, and the contemplation of their 



works, were considerable factors in the development 
of Arab art. There was a reaction of the West upon 
the East ; sometimes indeed such a direct influence 
is perceptible as to astound and perplex the 
observer. To understand the part played by the 
Crusaders in the East, and to appreciate its Western 
and independent character, we must cast a rapid 
glance at the monuments constructed by them in 
Cyprus and Rhodes after their expulsion from 


Gothic Architecture 

Syria. We shall find the movement which originated 
in the twelfth century progressing throughout the 



following centuries on the same lines ; in other words, 
drawing a continuous inspiration from France. 1 

" The island of Cyprus was conquered in 1191 

1 Melchior de Vogiie, Les fcglises de la Terre Sainte. 

Churches of the i^-th and i$th Centuries 125 

by Richard Coeur de Lion ; in the following year 
it was ceded to Guy de Lusignan, in whose family 
it remained until the close of the fifteenth century. 
Catherine Cornaro, the widow of the last of the 
Lusignans, gave it in 1489 to the Venetians, 
who retained possession of it till its conquest by 
the Turks in 15/1. Throughout the thirteenth 
century Cyprus was a refuge for successive remnants 
of the Christian colonies of Syria. French pre- 
dominance was at its height in the fourteenth 
century. The religious monuments of this period 
are very numerous and of great variety of structure. 
Art had emerged from the cloister, and had ceased 
to be the monopoly of monastic bodies. In Cyprus 
we no longer find that scholastic uniformity which 
characterises the Latin churches of the Holy Land. 
The new blood of secularism had entered into 
Romanesque architecture and led to a fresh develop- 
ment of the art in Cyprus as in France. . . . Archi- 
tects applied the thirteenth -century methods, fully 
recognising their consequences. They sacrificed to 
local exigencies by the substitution of flat roofs for 
timber ones, but this modification in nowise affected 
the general arrangement of their buildings. 

" The most considerable monument of the 
thirteenth century is the Cathedral of Nicosia, built 
between 1209 and 1228, and dedicated to St. 
Sophia (see Fig. 79). This large three - aisled 
church has all the characteristics of French 
cathedrals of the period." l 

The Churches of St. Catherine and of the 
Armenians, the mosques of Emerghie and of Arab 

1 Melchior de Vogue, Les Eglises de la Terrc Sainte. 


Goth ic A rch it edit, re 

Achmet also date from the close of the thirteenth 
century. Among the more numerous buildings of 
the fourteenth century the most noteworthy are the 
Cathedral of St. Nicholas at Famagusta (Figs. 80 
and 8 1 ), with its three portals and two towers ; the 
Church of St. Sophia at Famagusta (Fig. 82), 
the Premonstrant Monastery of Lapai's, remarkable 


for the beauty and nobility of its abbatial buildings, 
which comprise a large three - aisled chapel, and 
several religious buildings at Paphos and at Limasol. 
At Rhodes there are a number of churches built in 
the fifteenth century after French models, which had 
no less a vogue for dwelling-houses than for religious 
and military architecture ; in a word, architecture 
civil, religious, or military was French in all 
its manifestations. " The guns of the order still 
point from the embrasures of the towers, Soliman's 

Churches of the i^th and i$th Centuries 1 2 7 

stone cannon balls strew the neighbouring ground ; 
sculptured on the house fronts are the blazons, and 
in many cases the French names, of their bygone 
owners. Involuntarily the mind travels back by the 
space of three centuries, reincorporating these for- 


gotten worthies, and repeopling their dwelling- 
places. One half expects to see the emblazoned doors 
thrown open, to give egress to knightly owners, 
mustering for the last time under the banner of 
St. John." l 

1 Melchior de Vogue, Les Eglises de la Terre Sainte. 



THE first steeples were round, on the model of the 
Greek and Byzantine cupolas, and modest in diameter, 
so that the bells they contained can only have been 
small ones. These bells were suspended from the 
summit of the tower, the portion of wall surrounding 
them being pierced by arcaded openings, and crowned 
by a long pyramidal roof. 1 

Such towers were very frequently isolated from 
the body of the church. A large number of Italian 
churches, dating from all periods of the Middle 
Ages, have steeples at a considerable distance from 
the main building. 

Force of habit determined the application of the 
round form to towers of the twelfth century ; but it 
is evident that a square plan was preferred, even so 
early as the tenth century, and such a form was in 
course of time rendered necessary by the develop- 
ment of the founder's art, and the increase in the 
dimensions of bells at the beginning of the twelfth 
century. Besides the great bells which proclaimed 

1 Encydopedie de F Architecture et de la Construction, article 
"Clocher," by Ed. Corroyer. 

Towers and Steeples Choirs Chape ts 129 

the hour of prayer to a distant flock, small bells 
were in use to regulate the religious exercises of the 
clergy. They are called in the Latin texts signum, 
sckilla, nola ; in French sin, esqmelle, eschelitte ; 
from the beginning of the tenth 
century they were placed in the 
campaniles which crowned the 

The Italian word campanile has 
the force of the French terms 
tour, docker, beffroi (or the English 
tower, steeple, belfry). But the 
denomination docker has a general 
application to all pyramidal struc- 
tures rising above the roof of a 

The belfry was a tower, in 
most cases isolated, which con- 
tained the bell destined to sound 
the curfew and tocsin, and 
to call the burghers to civic 

Like the belfry, the Italian 
campanile is generally an isolated 
building, but it is usually placed ^ 


in the near neighbourhood of (TWELFTH CENTURY) 

a church. Among the most 

famous campanili are those of Florence begun in 

the fourteenth century, on the plans of Giotto, of 

Padua, of Ravenna, and the famous leaning tower of 


In France the term campanile has a more 
general application, and is given to the little pierced 


Gothic Architecture 

arcaded turrets which, in many churches, crown the 

walls of the fagade and 
shelter small bells. 

The most ancient 
belfries of the original 
provinces of France 
have great analogies 
with Byzantine monu- 
ments as to form, even 
when differing in detail. 
One of the most re- 
markable of these is 
the tower of St. Front 
at Perigueux, which 
seems to date from 
the first years of the 
eleventh century. It 
marked the sepulchre of 
the Saint,and apparent- 
ly embraced two bays 
of the original three- 
aisled Latin church of 
the sixth century, evi- 
dent traces of which 
have been discovered 
to the west of the 
great domed building 
of later times. 

The tower of St. 
Front is composed of 
three square stories, 
diminishing on plan as 
8 4 . GIOTTO'S TOWER AT FLORENCE they rise, and crowned 

Towers and Steeples Choirs Chapels 131 

by a conical dome, resting upon a circular colonnade, 
the columns of which vary in height and diameter, 
and owe their origin to Roman examples in the 
neighbourhood. 1 

The influence of this remarkable building was 
very considerable. It served as a model to architects 
of the neighbouring provinces. The type was im- 
proved upon in the tower of the Abbey Church of 
Brantome by the avoidance of the false bearings 
which mar the structure of St. Front, while at St. 
Leonard, near Limoges, a very original feature was 
superadded in the octagonal form of the crown or 
roof. The Auvergnat architects further perfected 
the construction by introducing internal piers for 
the support of the recessed walls of the upper stories, 
as at Puy. 2 

It is worthy of note that, in spite of the im- 
portance given to these buildings, the space allotted 
to the bells themselves was comparatively limited, 
which seems to indicate that the towers were destined 
for other purposes than the reception of bells. In 
the eleventh century the tower bore the same re- 
lation to the cathedral or abbey as did the donjon 
to the feudal castle. It was, in fact, the symbol of 
power. As abbots and bishops enjoyed the same 
rights as the nobles, it will be readily understood 
that the costliness of such emblems would be governed 
solely by the resources of their authors. The number 
of towers built at about the same period in connec- 
tion with cathedrals and abbeys, and the importance 

1 L Architecture Rotuane, by Ed. Corroyer ; Paris, Maison Quantin, 

2 Ibid. 1888. 

132 Gothic Architecture 

of such as were attached even to simple parish 


Towers and Steeples Choirs Chapels 133 
churches may be explained if we consider them 


mainly as denoting the status of an enfranchised 

134 Gothic Architecture 

commune. The rivalries in connection with neigh- 
bouring towers undoubtedly had their origin in 
conditions such as these. 

Towards the close of the eleventh century and 
throughout the twelfth many towers were built at 
an angle with the door, or in front of it, so as to 
form a porch, as at St. Benoit-sur-Loire and Poissy ; 
or above it, as in the Churches of Ainay and of 

Later on immense towers with spires were built 
at each angle of the western facade, the gable of 
the nave rising between them. 

At the Abbey Church of Jumieges a large project- 
ing porch filled the central bay of the ground story 
between the bases of the towers, but more frequently 
the towers were in one plane with the chief porch, 
and were themselves pierced with lateral porches, 
the three doors, with their richly sculptured voussoirs, 
forming one vast decorative whole. 

The architects of the so - called Romanesque 
period built their towers at the intersection of the 
transepts ; but avoiding the constructive audacities 
of the tower of St. Front, which was one of the 
most generally accepted models of the eleventh 
and twelfth centuries, they ensured the solidity of 
their central tower by placing the more or less 
conical cupola which crowned the structure upon a 
square base, carefully loaded and abutted at each 

At the close of the twelfth century the architects 
of the Ile-de-France adopted a square form for the 
body of the tower, and in imitation of Oriental and 
Rhenish builders, reserved the octagonal plan for 

Towers and Steeples Choirs Chapels 1 3 5 

the spire, ensuring the solidity of the angles by a 
variety of ingenious com- 

The great central 
Towers of the Norman 
churches built in England 
and Normandy from the 
thirteenth to the fourteenth 
century were not always 
merely belfries, as at 
Salisbury or Langrune, 
for instance ; in many 
cases they were lanterns, 
their functions being to 
light the centre of the 
church and to form 
a magnificent decorative 
feature at the intersection 
of transepts, nave, and 
choir in cruciform struc- 
tures, such as St. Georges, 
Of all the French pro- 
vinces Normandy clung 
most persistently to the 
lantern tower, and that 
of St. Ouen at Rouen is 
one of the most interesting 

In other provinces, not- 
ably Picardy, Champagne, 
Burgundy, and the Ile- 


de-Prance, lantern towers STEEPLE 

136 Gothic Architecture 

were superseded by timber flecJies cased in lead, which 


rose at the intersection of the roofs of nave and transepts. 

Towers and Steeples Choirs Chapels 137 

Among the most remarkable towers of the twelfth 
century in the Northern provinces we may mention 
those of Tracy-le-Val (Oise), of the Abbey Church 
of the Ste. Trinite at Vendome, and of Bayeux ; 
those of the Abbaye-aux-Hommes at Caen ; the 
old tower of the Cathedral of Chartres, and that of 
St. Eusebe at Auxerre. 

In the thirteenth century the height and decora- 
tive richness of these structures had increased to an 
extraordinary degree. The tower of Senlis (Fig. 
86) is a most elegant example of the first years of 
a century which witnessed the birth of so many 
marvels of architecture. 

In Burgundy several remarkable towers were 
built by the monks of Cluny, who were free from 
the asceticism introduced by St. Bernard among 
their brethren of Citeaux. The most notable of 
their structures are perhaps the towers of the Church 
of St. Pere, near Vezelay, built about 1240. 

In the South various original developments in 
Gothic architecture were logically brought about 
by a judicious use of the materials of the country, 
such as brick. Most interesting examples of such 
development are to be found in the tower of the 
Jacobin Church at Toulouse, which dates from the 
close of the thirteenth century, and the donjon 
tower of Albi, the characteristics of which we have 
already discussed. 

Examples of isolated towers are hardly to be 
found of later date than the thirteenth century. 
Bordeaux perhaps offers an exception. But the 
general usage after this period was to include the 
towers in the composition of the facade ; their actual 

138 Gothic Architecture 

functions as belfries became apparent only above the 



level of the vaults. A beautiful example of this 

Towers and Steeples Choirs Chapels 1 39 

treatment may be studied in the noble composition 
of Notre Dame de Paris. 

Its contemporary, the Cathedral of Laon, has 
four towers, terminating in octagonal belfries, the 
angles of which are flanked by two-storied open- 
work pinnacles ; on the second of these stories are 
placed colossal bulls, the effect of which is very 

The towers of Rheims, which date from the 
second half of the thirteenth century, are of secondary 
importance in the splendid facade ; but they are 
marked by a feature which was a novelty at the 
time. The interior of the belfry is built with a 
cage to allow free play to the bells, and space for the 
timbers by which they are supported, while the 
exterior forms an octagonal tower flanked by im- 
portant pinnacles. 

Rheims may be said to mark in Gothic archi- 
tecture the boundary which separated its period of 
perfection from that of exaggeration and mannerism. 
The mania for lightness and the desire to dazzle and 
astound soon seduced its artists into a dangerous 
path which led inevitably to decadence. Such 
effects first manifested themselves more especially in 
the provinces of the German frontier, and the spire 
of Strasburg, built in the fourteenth century, is a 
famous example of these mistaken tendencies. 

Throughout the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries 
towers adhered to the plan and general arrangement 
adopted by the later architects of the thirteenth 
century, diverging chiefly in the marvellous profusion 
of detail and of sculpture, and in the excessive light- 
ness of design. The points of support were attenu- 


Gothic Architecture 

ated, and the mass of ornament seemed designed to 

conceal them as far as 
possible. In France 
the misfortunes of the 
times tended largely 
to perpetuate these 
dangerous foibles; for 
a number of churches 
which were founded 
at the close of the 
thirteenth century re- 
mained unfinished till 
the fifteenth and six- 
teenth, when Gothic 
art was in full de- 

But we must not 
passover unmentioned 
certain buildings 
famous for boldness 
of construction and 
magnificence of de- 
coration, if not for 
purity of style. The 
following are perhaps 
the most important : 
In France the tower 
of St. Pierre at Caen, 
which shows strong 
traces of that analogy, 
or family likeness, so 
to speak, uniting Nor- 


TOWER man edifices ; and the 

Towers and Steeples Choirs Chapels 14 

tower of St. Michel at Bordeaux, the spire of which 
was destroyed by a 
hurricane in 1768, 
and has lately been 
restored to its primi- 
tive height of 365 
feet ; in Austria the 
tower of St. Stephen, 
one of the most im- 
portant of such build- 
ings in that country, 
finished in 1433; the 
tower of the Cathedral 
of Freiburg-im-Breis- 
gau (grand -duchy of 
Baden), one of the 
most beautiful and 
important examples. 
It was mainly con- 
structed towards the 
close of the fourteenth 
century, but the open- 
work spire was added 
about the middle of 
the following century. 
The Cathedral of 
Antwerp in Belgium 
was begun in the 
middle of the four- 
teenth century ; the 
nave and the four side 


aisles were not com- 


pleted till a century BORDEAUX. TOWER 


Gothic A rch itectu re 

later. The fagade is said to have been begun in 

1406 by a Boulognese 
master-mason, one Pierre 
Amel ; but of the two 
belfry towers only that 
on the north was com- 
pleted in 1518. Its 
principal merit lies in 
its boldness of construc- 
tion and its unusual 
height of 410 feet, rather 
than in purity of style 
or beauty of detail, the 
latter being a conglomer- 
ate made up from every 
period of Gothic. 

CJioirs. In Christian 
churches the choir * proper 
was an institution long 
before the chapels. 2 

At the extremity of 
the basilica, in the centre 
of the chalcidium or tran- 
sept which gave to the 
basilican plan the form 
of a T or Tau a figure 
venerated by the Christians 

1 I? Architecture Rotnane, by 
Kd. Corroyer ; Paris. Maison 
Quantin, 1888. 

2 Encydopedie de V Architecture 
92. CATHEDRAL OF FREIBURG - IM- et de la Construction, article 

BREISGAU (GRAND -DUCHY OF " Choeur - Chapelle," by Ed. 
BADEN). TOWER Corroyer. 

Towers and Steeples Choirs Chapels 143 
as symbolising the Cross were placed the altar, the 


144 Gothic Architecture 

sanctuary, and the precincts occupied by the deacons 
and sub -deacons. The altar stood in the midst, 
between the hemicycle or apse and the nave arch. 
The hemicycle or apse which formed the Pagan 
tribunal was by the Christians reserved for ordained 
priests, hence its name, presbyterium. A semi- 
circular bench (consistorium)^ interrupted in the middle 
by a seat higher than the rest, on either side of which 
sat the inferior clergy, surrounded the apse, the raised 
seat (suggestus) being the throne of the bishop or his 

This portion of the basilica underwent a later 
modification ; from the presbyterium it became the 
martyrium, or shrine in which was placed the body 
of the patron saint of the basilica or the relic to 
which the devotion of the faithful was specially 
addressed. This usage had been established even 
before the year 500 in the first basilica of St. 
Martin at Tours. 

The primitive apse was lighted only from the 
nave or transept. After its transformation into the 
martyrium it was not only pierced with windows, 
but, according to some authors, was provided with 
openings along its base, or even arcaded, so as to 
give access to a low gallery running round it. If 
this be so, the characteristic arrangement of mediaeval 
churches dates from the fifth century. 

In later times when it became customary to place 
the altar at the back, against the wall of the apse, 
seats for the bishops, priests, and choristers the 
choir were arranged between the altar and the 
nave. In monastic churches, built after the Latin 
tradition, the choir was generally in the crossing, or 

Towers and Steeples Choirs Chapels 145 

where there were no transepts, in the nave itself. It 
was separated from the congregation by a low 
enclosure of stone or marble. There are a few ex- 
amples of churches with tivo choirs, one at the east, 
the other at the west. 

In the first churches of the Romanesque epoch 
the choir was confined to the space between the 
piers of the crossing ; it soon, however, made con- 
siderable advances. In monastic churches the choir 
or sanctuary was cut off from the surrounding spaces 
by barriers of stone or wood, and towards the nave 
was closed by a jube, or rood screen and loft, the 
upper part of which was accessible to the monks for 
the reading of the epistle and gospel. Bishops, on 
the other hand, being free from the necessity of 
closing the choirs of their cathedrals, made a point 
of providing their flocks with wide spaces, in which 
ceremonies could be afforded a liberal development. 

At the end of the twelfth century and beginning 
of the thirteenth these ideas governed the construc- 
tion of important churches. Changes continued to 
be made, however, and from the reign of St. Louis 
we find the choirs of great cathedrals arranged on 
the exclusive principles of the monastic churches. 
The arcades surrounding them were filled with high 
stone walls, against the inner sides of which the 
stalls of the clergy, with their lofty and richly carved 
wooden canopies, were securely fixed. 

Among the more famous choirs we may quote 
those of Notre Dame de Paris, of Amiens, of 
Beauvais, of Auch, of Lincoln, of Canterbury, of 
Spires, of Worms, of Burgos, etc. In order to 
satisfy the laymen whose view .of the ceremonies 


146 Gothic Architecture 

performed in the choir was intercepted by these 
enclosures, the sanctuary was surrounded by chapels 
contrived in the wall of the apse, and in the side 
aisles of the nave. 

Chapels -From the end of the tenth century, 
according to M. de Caumont, we shall sometimes 
find aisles running entirely round the choir or 
sanctuary and communicating with it by an arcade. 
Even at this early period there must have been 
chapels in such aisles. In the twelfth century the 
disposition to elongate the choirs of important 
churches became general, and brought with it 
certain modifications of the plan. The Church of 
Vignori, which dates from the tenth century, has 
an apse divided into three chapels, recalling in 
its arrangement that of the Holy Sepulchre at 

The Church of St. Servan, built in the eleventh 
century, has five chapels round the choir, and the 
Auvergnat churches Notre Dame du Port at 
Clermont, and St. Paul at Issoire among others, 
which date from the beginning of the twelfth 
century, also show in this respect some interesting 
peculiarities. The importance given to the apse by 
these rings of chapels can scarcely be too much 
insisted on. 

On plan these apsidal chapels are, for the most 
part, round -ended. They are pierced with one or 
more round-headed windows, and have segmental 
vaults. On the outside they are often ornamented 
by mouldings, modillions, and even by variations in 
the colour of their stones. Chapels between the 
buttresses of the .nave are rare in several aisled 

Towers and Steeples Choirs Chapels 147 

churches of the Romanesque period, but in many 
such buildings they were added at a later time. 

The great revolution which took place in the art 
of building towards the end of the twelfth century 
had, for one of its results, the multiplication of 
chapels in the numerous great churches dating from 
that epoch. The principle of that revolution being 
to replace the inert masses which had previously 
resisted the various thrusts by comparatively slender 
points of support upon which those thrusts could be 
collected, stability being secured by a scientific 
calculation of forces, it led, as a natural conse- 
quence, to a considerable augmentation of dispos- 
able surfaces in the interior. These surfaces, mere 
curtains between the points of support, were orna- 
mented with vast networks of stone, embracing 
panels of painted glass, on which the principal 
events of the Old and New Testaments, and the 
scenes so vividly outlined in the traditions of the 
time, were traced with admirable art. Room was 
found for chapels of considerable size, not only in 
the walls, or rather between the piers of the apse, 
but also in those of the side aisles, the bounding 
walls of which were carried out to the external faces 
of the buttresses receiving the thrust of the main 
vault, which buttresses now formed the lateral walls 
of a continuous line of chapels. 

The veneration paid to the relics of saints 
increased greatly after the year 1000, in con- 
sequence of the pilgrimages to the Holy Land which 
preceded the Crusades. Each religious community 
established a patron, and demanded a special oratory 
dedicated to him, and it was a point of honour to 

148 Gothic Architecture 

make such a shrine excel that of the neighbouring, 
and, in most cases, rival corporation. The demand 
for these shrines increased to such an extent at the 
close of the fourteenth and throughout the fifteenth 
century that, though chapels were constructed in all 
the available spaces of the vast cathedrals, they were 
found insufficient, and sanctuaries, which in earlier 
times had been the special property of particular 
bodies, were shared by several confraternities. 

The Lady Chapel, or chapel dedicated to the 
Virgin, was generally in the apse, and in the thirteenth 
century, especially at its close, had been so consider- 
ably developed as to give great importance to the 
portion of the apse allotted to it. Very curious 
examples of this development are to be studied in 
the Cathedrals of Bourges, Amiens, Meaux, and 
Rouen, among others. 

In many cathedrals and churches of the Middle 
Ages lateral chapels or annexes were built to serve 
some subsidiary purpose ; such were chapter-houses, 
muniment rooms, treasuries, or even mortuaries, as 
the presbytery of Lincoln, the circular chapel at 
Canterbury, known as Becket's Crown, containing 
the tomb of Thomas a Becket, and Henry VII.'s 
chapel at Westminster. 

A most interesting example of this species of 
structure dating from the end of the twelfth century 
is to be seen at Soissons Cathedral ; a two-storied 
vaulted building is connected by openings with the 
upper galleries of the round-ended south transept, 
and contains a funeral chapel, with a vaulted 
chamber above for a treasury. 

In many countries small ancient buildings are to be 

Towers and Steeples Choirs Chapels 149 

found, known as baptisteries or chapels ; these latter 
are doubtless the little rural churches which were 
built in great numbers in the first centuries of the 
Christian era, and are designated capella in texts 
of the time of Charlemagne, or perhaps oratories, 
such as it was customary to attach to the charnel- 
houses of towns or great religious establishments. 1 

The use of private chapels dates from the earliest 
days of Christianity ; great personages who had 
embraced the new faith followed the example of the 
Romans who constructed private basilicas in their 
palaces. The custom was perpetuated, and the 
splendid Palatine Chapel of Aix is one of the most 
magnificent of its results. In later times kings and 
great nobles built themselves sanctuaries within their 
castles. In the time of Charles V. the Louvre 
owned an important chapel ; the feudal castles of 
Coucy and Pierrefonds, among others, contained 
large chapels, the arrangement of which is very 
curious. Archaeologists cite as of special beauty 
among seignorial chapels the ancient oratory of the 
Dukes of Bourbon at Moulins, the Chapels of 
Chenonceaux, Chambord, and Chaumont, and the 
Chapel of Jacques Cceur's hotel at Bourges. Many 
episcopal palaces have very remarkable chapels, 
such as that of the archbishop's palace at Rheims. 

Refuges, hospitals, madhouses, and prisons also 
had chapels more or less important. 

The term Sainte Cliapelle 2 was applied in the 

1 'C Architecture Romane, by Ed. Corroyer ; Paris, Maison Quantin, 

2 The plans and elevations of these chapels are so well known, and 
have been so frequently published, that we abstain from reproducing 
them in the present work. 

150 Gothic Architecture 

Middle Ages to buildings raised over spots sanctified 
by the martyrdom of a saint, or destined to enshrine 
relics of peculiar holiness. The most famous was 
the royal oratory, built by Pierre de Montereau 
between 1242 and 1248 on the south side of the 
royal palace, now the Palais de Justice, Paris, to 
receive the Crown of Thorns, the pieces of the true 
Cross, and other relics brought by the royal founder, 
St. Louis, from the Holy Land. 

The distinguishing feature of the Ste. Chapelle of 
Paris is its division into two stories the upper 
chapel, which communicated with the royal apart- 
ments, and the lower chapel on the ground floor, 
which may have been open to the public. Its con- 
struction is remarkable no less for the happy bold- 
ness with which the whole of the spaces between 
the buttresses were utilised for the introduction of 
immense painted windows, than for the perfection of 
execution and the beauty of the sculptures, and this 
in spite of the rapidity with which the work was 
carried out. An annexe, which has now disappeared, 
adjoined the apse on the north, and consisted of 
three stories serving as sacristies and muniment 
rooms. The spire, a wooden structure cased in lead, 
dating from the time of Charles VII., was destroyed 
by fire in 1630 ; it was shortly restored, only to be 
again demolished at the close of the eighteenth 
century, and was finally replaced by the architect 
Lassus, who restored the building. 

The Ste. Chapelle of St. Germain-en-Laye must 
have been built some years before that of the royal 
palace of Paris. It is remarkable for certain 
peculiarities of structure which show a greater 

Towers and Steeples Choirs Chapels 1 5 1 

architectural skill ; the piers which sustain the vault 
have a greater interior projection ; the formerets are 
disengaged from the wall, and the square windows 
occupy the whole space between the buttresses, 
and rise to close beneath the cornice. This most 
original and learned arrangement gives the building 
a very graceful aspect, and brings out its elegant 

The Ste. Chapelle of Vincennes, begun by 
Charles VI., was not completed until the reign of 
Henry II. In construction it is akin to that of 
Paris. The two-storied annexes which formed the 
sacristies and treasury were finished towards the 
close of the fifteenth century. 

After the example of kings and princes the great 
abbeys began to raise important oratories inde- 
pendent of their conventual churches. The Abbey 
of St. Martin des Champs at Paris founded two 
large chapels about the middle of the thirteenth 
century, one dedicated to the Virgin, and the other 
to St. Michael. 

Pierre de Montereau was commissioned to build, 
in addition to the Ste. Chapelle of the palace, a 
chapel dedicated to the Virgin, within the precincts 
of the Abbey of St. Germain des Pres ; the plan of 
the vaults differs here from that of the Ste. Chapelle 
of the palace. According to a drawing by Alex- 
ander Lenoir, made before the destruction of this 
chapel of the Virgin, the pointed arches comprised 
two bays, in imitation of the vaults on intersecting 
arches in Notre Dame of Paris, the origin of which 
we discussed in chapter vi. 

The Abbey of Chaalis, near Senlis, founded by 

152 Gothic 

Louis the Fat in 1 136, which was one of the most 
important abbeys of the Cistercian order in the 
thirteenth century, possessed an abbey church of 
five aisles, over 330 feet long. Towards the middle 
of the thirteenth century it nevertheless founded a 
Ste. Chapelle^ known as the Chapelle de 1'Abbe, 
The building has undergone various vicissitudes, and 
the ribbed vaults which date from the reign of St. 
Louis were once decorated with frescoes, attributed 
to Primaticcio. The building still exists, however, 
almost in its entirety. It illustrates the considerable 
influence exercised by the Ste. Chapelle of Paris 
from its very foundation on the great nobles, more 
especially the heads of rich abbeys eager to parade 
their immense power and wealth. 



IN the Middle Ages all the arts were auxiliary to 
architecture. The architect traced the details of his 
conception in the workshop, and superintended the 
construction ; he directed stone - carvers, masons, 
sculptors, illuminators, painters, and glass - stainers, 
and laid his imprimatur on every branch of the 
work of which he was the creator. 

Thus the connection between the allied arts was 
very close. The history of sculpture is that of 
architecture, for the diverse influences which marked 
their origin and modifications were common to both. 
Each reached its apogee in the brilliant manifesta- 
tions of the thirteenth century, and each followed the 
same path to decadence less than two centuries later. 

Statuary and ornamental sculpture were insepar- 
able, being executed by the same artists in pursu- 
ance of the same idea : the study of nature. 

In obedience to the law of increasing develop- 
ment they abandoned the hieratic forms imposed 
by religious tradition, but only to give a new 
expression to these very traditions, which were still 
preserved and venerated. 


Gothic Architecture 

Roman inspiration, and even direct imitation of 
Roman sculpture, is clearly traceable in the first half 
of the thirteenth century. Rheims, which may be 
accepted as the masterpiece, the last word, so to 
speak, of Gothic architecture, illustrates this influence 
in certain magnificent examples of the western porch. 


The architects of the thirteenth century were pre- 
eminently the children of their generation. Ignoring 
their Latin descent they followed in the paths of 
the innovators so far as monumental structure was 
concerned ; but they in their turn inaugurated a 
new departure by abandoning the Byzantine con- 



156 Gothic Architecture 

vention in statuary and sculptured ornament which 



had prevailed throughout the preceding century, in 
favour of the more 
ancient Roman tradi- 
tion. In this one 
respect they made a 
salutary return upon 
those antique prin- 
ciples which they after- 
wards definitively 

The influence of 
Roman art upon French 
mediaeval sculpture is 
unquestionable. Its 
course may be traced 
through the relations 
existing between North 
and South long before 
the Crusades, princi- 
pally by means of the 
great religious com- 
munities, and even 
more manifestly in the 
countless monuments 
raised in Gaul on 
Roman models, or in 
those constructed by 
Gallo- Romans for 
several centuries. 
Many of these sur- 
vived the incursions of 
the barbarians. 

The origin of orna- 



Gothic A rchitecture 

mental sculpture is no less venerable. Superficially, 

it would seem to have 
drawn its inspiration 
mainly from the 
Romanesque epoch ; 
but according to 
modern savants l its 
source must be looked 
for in much remoter 
periods. Oriental art, 
imported into Scandi- 
navia, and there bar- 
barised,was introduced 
into Ireland in the 
early centuries of our 
era. The Irish monks, 
whose power was very 
great, and who seem to 
have been the principal 
agents in the Renas- 
cence of the days of 
Charlemagne, created, 
or at any rate greatly 
art by their manu- 
scripts and miniatures. 
From Carlovingian art 
that of the so-called 
Romanesque period 
was born, and this was 


1 M. A. cle Montaiglon, 
Professor at the Ecole des 

Sculpture 159 

in its turn the parent of the ornamental sculpture of 

I 8 

the thirteenth century. In the admirably decorative 

160 Gothic Architecture 

character of this art we recognise the influence of 


an ancient tradition handed on from generation to 



generation, to be 
finally rejuvenated, 
invigorated, and 
transformed as to 
detail by a close 
study of nature, 
precisely as had 
happened in the 
allied development 
of statuary. 

The architects of 
the Ile-de-France, 
assimilated the prin- 
ciples of the new 
art with the supple 
skill which charac- 
terised them, such 
assimilation bear- 
ing rich fruit at 
Notre Dame de 
Paris in the sculp- 
tured figures of the 
west porch, and 
no less in their ac- 
cessory ornaments. 
A most instruc- 
tive comparative 
study is furnished 
by the north and 
south porches of 
| Chartres Cathedral, 
fere we find, in one 







Gothic Architecture 

building, examples of sculptures inspired by the 

hieratic tradition of 
Byzantium, and of 
those which had been 
transformed and nat- 
uralised by a return 
to antique ideals. 

At Amiens again 
certain of the sculp- 
tures were influenced 
by the new principles. 
But in the greater 
part there is a pro- 
digality of motive 
and looseness of exe- 
cution which indicate 
decline no less surely 
than the mistaken 
ingenuity of the 
structural details. 

Mediaeval sculp- 
ture followed the 
fortunes of architect- 
ure, both in its rise 
and fall. In its first 
beginnings it was 
characterised by a 
purity of style not 
unworthy of Rome 
in her most glorious 


OF THE SOUTH PORCH days, but rapidly 

losing touch with the 
antique ideal, it lost measure and proportion in its 

Sculpture 163 

development. The wise laws of simplicity, essential to 

/fo^^.- bfrt~rf~ " '^ 


164 Gothic Architecture 

all greatness in art, were set aside in favour of an 
unruly exuberance which ran riot in details, and was 
the immediate cause of a decline perceptible even in 
the fourteenth century, and absolute in the fifteenth. 


" Sculpture was at its zenith. We are astounded by the 
activity and fertility of thirteenth-century artists, who 
peopled facades and embrasures with figures from 
seven to ten feet in height, and animated every tym- 
panum with countless statuettes. The facade of 
Notre Dame, by no means one of the richest, has 



sixty-eight colossal statues, for the most part of the 
highest excellence ; at Chartres and at Amiens there 
are over a hundred to each porch. The famous 


figure of Christ at Amiens is a masterpiece ; bas- 
reliefs work out the details of the main subject, and 
enrich the story with innumerable pictures of amaz- 
ing vigour and originality." 

1 66 

Gothic Architecture 




The favourite themes of the thirteenth century 
had something in 
common with those 
of the Romanesque 
epoch, though there 
is a sensible differ- 
ence of treatment 
and considerable 
progress in com- 
position, which ex- 
hibited more of 
taste and learning 
and less of eccen- 
tricity. But the 
satiric power and 
delight in carica- 
ture of our fore- 
fathers still de- 
manded an outlet. 
These found ex- 
pression in many 
a caustic gibe at 
clergy, princes, and 
rich burghers, and 
took substance in 
many a quaint 
gargoyle. A lux- 
uriant system of 107. WOODEN STATUETTE (HEIGHT 23! IN.) 
adapted from the 
vegetable kingdom, was auxiliary to statuary. The 
main subject was enframed by it, or relieved against 
it ; while often the composition itself was enriched 



Gothic Architecture 

by its introduction to complete the decorative 

effect. Or such a 
system of decoration 
was the only sculptur- 
esque motive em- 
ployed ; it was then 
used with the utmost 
elaboration, and de- 
veloped at the expense 
of statuary. Such was 
the case in Burgundy 
and Normandy, in 
which provinces the 
latter art was of slow 
growth. The Byzan- 
tine character of the 
scrolls, carved bands, 
and fantastic foliage 
of Romanesque art dis- 
appeared ; ornament 
took on a new inde- 
pendence, and began 
to seek its types 
among native plant 

The carved .leaf- 
age (Fig. 1 06) of the 
cloister arcades in the 
Abbey of Mont St. 
Michel strikingly illus- 
trate this departure. 

108. IVORY STATUETTE (HEIGHT 9 | IN.) The very plants which 


PARIS inspired the thirteenth- 



century sculptors still flourish at the foot of the 
ancient abbey walls. 

Thus the flora of our own 
fields was applied in lithic form 
to the elements of our church 
architecture. But the breadth 
proper to architectural sculpture 
was still preserved by means 
of ingenious combinations. 

It was not until the four- 
teenth and fifteenth centuries 
that the imitation of natural 
forms became servile, tedious, 
and over-minute, and that the 
beauty of the whole was sacri- 
ficed to exaggerated faithful- 
ness of detail. 1 

It should be noted that the 
decadence which manifested 
itself in monumental sculpture 
was far less rapid in the more 
intimate art which may be 
distinguished as imagery. In 
the thirteenth and fourteenth 
centuries all sculptors were 
image-makers ; but towards the 
close of the latter, and during 
the fifteenth, the term was 
specially applied to carvers 
of images in wood, ivory, etc. 

1 Anthyme St. Paul, Histoire Monu- 
mentale de la France ; Paris, Hachette 
and Co., 1884. 




Gothic Architecture 

Art still flourished in their ateliers in all its beauty, 
notably that of the goldsmiths, who carved images in 
high or low relief in precious metals, and who, thanks 


to the severely paternal regulations of the maitrise, 
were enabled to bring French decorative art to the 
highest degree of perfection. The beautiful carved 
wooden stalls of Amiens, Auch, and Albi, to name 







Gothic Architecture 

but the most famous, testify to the vigorous talent of 
the fourteenth and fifteenth-century image-carvers. 

Flemish ateliers, which were kept up by the 
severe rules of the guilds, exercised a salutary in- 
fluence upon the Burgundian craftsmen. This is 
more especially true of the great workshops of 


Antwerp and of Brussels, and perhaps also of those 
of Southern Germany. Burgundian influences re- 
acted in their turn upon the artists of the Ile-de- 
France, notably in Paris (that brilliant centre of all 
artistic activities ifi the fourteenth century), and 
stirred them to emulation. The union of these 
various elements brought about the revival of the 
fine tradition of the thirteenth century, and towards 




174 Gothic Architecture 

the close of the fifteenth century paved the way for 
a French Renascence, which heralded that more 
famous movement of the sixteenth, the credit of 


which is usually given to the Italians, who, however, 
such was the infatuation of the times, contributed 
rather to the debasement than to the regeneration of 
French national art. 

Sculpture 175 

The remarkable sculptures that owe their origin 
to the ateliers of Antwerp are distinguished by one 
of the quarterings of the civic arms, a severed hand 
burnt in with a red-hot iron. Those of Brussels are 


branded in like fashion. The images of wood, ivory, 
and vermeil, that we figure as illustrating the art of 
the image-carvers from the thirteenth to the fifteenth 
century, show that the old tradition was still cherished 
in this community. Their artists were so far swayed 

176 Gothic Architecture 

by iconographic convention that a certain hieratic 


Sculpture 177 

sentiment is perceptible in their works ; but this 


is never allowed to outweigh fitness of action and 


178 Gothic Architecture 

expression, and their masterpieces are so instinct with 
taste and 'delicacy, composed with so much skill and 
executed with such freedom, that they are the 
admiration of modern artists. 1 

These essentially French qualities they owe, 
primarily, of course, to the genius of their creators, 
but in a scarcely inferior degree to the fostering care 
of the maitriseS) institutions which only require a 
certain modification by the progressive leaven of to- 
day, to become models for the imitation of all whose 
function it is to develop national art. 

1 The statuettes, diptychs, etc., in wood, ivory, and vermeil, or 
silver-gilt, figured from No. 107 to No. 115, belong to the author. 



THE origin of painting dates from remote antiquity, 
and the art had already passed through many 
developments before it was applied by Gothic 
architects to the decoration of their buildings. 

" In the thirteenth century the architectonic paint- 
ing of the Middle Ages reached its apogee in France. 
The painted windows, the vignettes of manuscripts, 
and the mural decorations of this period all denote 
a learned and finished art, and are marked by a 
singular harmony of tones, and a corresponding 
harmony with architectural forms. It is beyond 
question that this art was developed^ in the cloister, 
and was a direct product of Graeco - Byzantine 
teachings." l 

From the archaeological point of view, however, 
it is important to bear in mind the considerable 
influence exercised upon continental art by the 
manuscripts and miniatures of Irish monks, so early 
as the reign of Charlemagne. 

Towards the close of the twelfth century sculp- 
ture and painting alike entered on a new phase, 

1 Viollet-le-Duc, Dictionnaire raisonnc, vol. vii. 


Gothic Architecture 

resulting from that process of architectural evolution 
we have been considering. The hieratic tradition was 
set aside for the direct teaching and inspiration of 


nature. But as the mastery of the painter increased, 
the mural spaces available for the application oi 
his new methods diminished rapidly, till, by th< 
thirteenth century, the only wall surfaces left to hii 
were those beneath the windows, and some fe 

Painting 181 

triangular spaces in the vault, where the interlacing 
network of arches became gradually closer and 
closer. Finding themselves thus practically ex- 
cluded from the new Gothic buildings, the painters 
of the day turned their attention with entire success 
to the decoration of ancient monuments by the new 
naturalistic methods. The domes of great abbey 
churches such as St. Front (Perigueux) offered 
immense bare surfaces, the concave forms of which 
they utilised with extraordinary skill, adorning them 
with compositions in which figure and ornament are 
so adroitly combined, that they seem to be of 
normal proportions, in spite of their really colossal 
size (Fig. 117). 

Thanks to a discovery of mural paintings made 
in the Cathedral of Cahors in 1890, of the greatest 
archaeological importance, we are able to verify these 

During the progress of certain works undertaken 
for the preservation of the two domes, some paint- 
ings of great interest were laid bare on the removal 
of several coats of whitewash from the western 
cupola. Traces of similar decoration were found on 
the eastern cupola and its pendentives, but these it 
was found impossible to preserve, the action of the 
air causing them to peel at once from the surfaces. 
But the western composition is intact, and though the 
brilliance of the colour has no doubt suffered from 
time, we can still appreciate the learning, vigour, and 
firmness of hand perceptible in the design, which is 
outlined in black. 

This western cupola, which is ovoid, and some 
fifty-three feet in diameter, like that of the east, is 


Goth ic A rch itectu re 


Painting \ 83 

divided by its pictorial scheme into eight sectors, 
separated by wide bands of boldly-designed fruits 
and flowers. Fig. 1 1 6 gives an exact idea of the 
general arrangement. Eight colossal figures of 
prophets, varying in height from fifteen to sixteen 
feet approximately, form the chief motives of the 
decoration. David, the prophet king, and the four 
great prophets : Daniel to the left of David ; then 
in order, Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Ezekiel on the right, 
towards the choir of the church, and the three minor 
prophets Jonah, Esdras, and Habakkuk are 
painted in modulated tones, the dark outline forming a 
setting, on a background varying from tawny to deep 
red. The figures are enframed in a firmly-drawn 
architectural setting. This architecture is painted in 
gray against the masonry, the courses of which are 
indicated by double lines of brown upon the pale 
ochre of the general surface. Each prophet holds a 
phylactery or banderole inscribed with his name in 
beautiful thirteenth-century characters. 

The floriated bands which divide the sectors 
terminate above in a circular frieze surrounding the 
crown of the cupola. The latter represents a starry sky, 
the centre painted with the apotheosis of St. Stephen, 
the patron of the cathedral. The frieze is painted 
with scenes from the trial and stoning of the Saint ; 
the life-size figures are full of expression and grouped 
with great variety. In these paintings there are 
evident leanings towards the naturalistic evolution ; 
and though the figures of the prophets are still 
hieratic in certain respects, the poses, heads, and 
details all point to evident research in the matter of 
physiognomy. This research is carried very far in 


1 84 Gothic Architecture 

the figures of the circular frieze, where the hands 
have evidently been carefully studied from nature. 

Technically speaking, these paintings are not 
frescoes. " The medium employed seems to have 
been egg, the white and yolk mixed, and the method 


very analogous to that of water-colour painting. . . . 
The red tones were laid over a bed of deep orange, 
the effect being one of extraordinary vigour and 
brilliance, taking into account the means at com- 
mand. The use of a prepared ground was systematic, 
and was resorted to whenever intensity of the tones 
or colour effects was desired. Evident efforts in the 

Painting 185 

direction of modelling are noticeable, though these 
have been neutralised to a great extent by a lack of 
concentration in the lights, and if it were not for the 
thick outline in which each figure is set, there would 
be much in common between the methods of these 
paintings and those renderings of diffused light 
affected by our modern plein-airistes. The general 
tone is that of the simpler paintings of the thirteenth 
century, that is to say, of those in which no gold 
was used. The effect is warm and brilliant, the 
dominant hue orange, heightened by reds of various 
tints." x 

According to the archaeological records derived 
from various works of the historians of Le Quercy, 
these paintings in the west cupola of Cahors were 
carried out under the direction of the Bishops Ray- 
mond de Cornil, 1280-93, Sicard de Montaigu, 1294- 
1300, Raymond Panchelli, 2 1300-1312, or Hugo 
Geraldi, 1312-16, the friend of Pope Clement V. 
and of Philip IV. of France, who was burnt alive at 
Avignon, or perhaps even of Guillaume de Labroa, 
1316-24, whose residence was at Avignon, and who 
governed the diocese of Cahors through a procurator. 
From this period onwards there was no further ques- 
tion of decorative works, the successors of these 
bishops being fully occupied in maintaining the 
struggle against the English invaders. 

It seems reasonable therefore to infer that the 
Cahors paintings date either from the end of the 
thirteenth century or the beginning of the fourteenth. 

1 From the technical notes of M. Ga'ida. 

2 Raymond Panchelli, or Raymond II., who in 1303 began to build 
the Bridge of Valentre at Cahors. 

1 86 Gothic Architecture 

In any case, these decorations are of very great 
artistic merit, and of the highest interest as an unique 
example of French decorative art at the finest period 
of the thirteenth century, when Gothic architecture 
had reached its apogee, and was producing master- 
pieces which served as models for contemporary 
artists, and even more notably, for those of the early 
fourteenth century. 

That vigilant guardian of our beautiful cathedrals 
and historic monuments, the Administration des 
Cultes, has taken measures which do it infinite 
honour in this matter. No attempt has been made 
to restore the paintings, but all necessary steps have 
been taken to ensure their preservation as they stand, 
so as to leave intact the archaeological value of these 
convincing witnesses to the genius of our French 
mediaeval .painters. 

The mural spaces available for fresco decoration 
having been gradually suppressed, and decorative 
painting limited to the illumination of certain sub- 
ordinate members of the structure, the mediaeval 
artists began to apply themselves to the decoration 
of the great screens of glass which, with their 
sculptured framework of stone, now filled the entire 
spaces between the piers. In this new art, or rather 
this incarnation of the spirit of decoration under a 
new form, we find a fresh illustration of that supple 
assimilative genius which already distinguished the 
French artist. 

" It is in the nature of the material used, that 
painted windows should greatly affect the character 
of the building they decorate. If their treatment is 
injudicious, the intended architectural effect may be 




/ \ 


1 Drawings lent by M. Ed. Didron, painter upon glass. 


Gothic Architecture 

greatly modified ; if, on the other hand, they are 
intelligently applied, they tend to bring out the 
beauty of structural surroundings. ... As is the 
case with all architectonic painting, stained glass 
demands simplicity in composition, sobriety in exe- 
cution, and an avoidance of naturalistic imitation. It 
should aim neither at illusion nor perspective. Its 
scheme of colour should be frank, energetic, compris- 
ing few tints, yet 
producing a har- 
mony at once sump- 
tuous and soothing, 
which should com- 
pel attention, but 
seeks not to engross 
it to the detriment 
of the setting. Like 
a mural mosaic, an 
Eastern carpet, or 
the enamelled gold- 
smith's work of the 
twelfth and thir- 
teenth centuries, a 
truly decorative 
window has no affinities with a picture, a scene or 
landscape gazed at from an open window, where the 
interest concentrates itself upon a particular point, 
and where the illumination is not equally diffused 
throughout. The fundamental law of decorative 
painting rests on a convention the aim of which is 
the satisfaction of the eye, which finds its pleasure to 
a far greater degree in the logical decoration of some 
structural or useful object than in its realisation of 




natural phenomena. Between painted windows and 
pictures a great gulf is fixed ; and the modern 
school, the heir of the Italian Renascence, seeking to 


bridge it over, has seduced decorative art from the 
safe paths of sound judgment." l 

The true functions of stained glass were never 
more admirably understood than in the twelfth 

1 Le Vitrail h f 'Exposition de 1889, by Ed. Didron ; Paris, 1890. 

190 Gothic Architecture 

century. The artists of that day had a perfect 
comprehension of those colour - harmonies, the 
subdued splendour of which best accorded with 
the simple and vigorous forms of Romanesque 


architecture. Upon his glass of various tints the 
painter first outlined his figure or ornament in black. 
This outline he supported with a flat half-tint which 
supplied a rough modelling and allowed the forms 
expressed to make their fullest effect from a distance. 



When, in the thirteenth century, the extreme 
austerity of religious buildings began to relax, the 


splendour of the painted windows increased pro- 
portionately ; but the coloration, though it increased 

192 Gothic Architecture 

in glow and vigour, still preserved its complete 
harmony with its surroundings. An additional rich- 
ness is perceptible in work of the fourteenth century, 
at which period red glass began to be used with 
a certain prodigality. The system of execution 
remains unchanged so far ; but the black outline is 
considerably attenuated, and the half-tone which 
emphasises it loses much of its importance. The 
figures, in place of the hieratic repose of an earlier 
period, affect a certain grace and animation which 
herald a tendency towards realistic imitation. These 
germs of naturalism soon bore fruit. At the close 
of the fourteenth century the discovery of how to 
obtain yellow from salts of silver, and the facility 
with which it could be used to warm the grayer tones 
of glass by the help of the muffle, caused a revolu- 
tion in the art of glass-painting, and prepared the 
way for polychromatic enamelling. This discovery, 
eminently useful when discreetly applied, was to lead 
to regrettable exaggerations. 

In the fifteenth century the figures of saints were 
usually drawn upon glass so tinted as to be of a 
soft white tone ; the hair, beards, head - dresses, 
jewels, trimmings, and embroideries were painted in 
yellow. The figures stood out in bold relief against 
a background of blue or red, and were divided by 
a damasked drapery of green or purple. Vast 
architectural motives were introduced enframing the 
figures and filling up the immense window spaces of 
the latest period of mediaeval art. The transforma- 
tion was radical. It is of interest to note that the 
final development of the Gothic style ought logically 
to have brought about a recrudescence of vigour in the 




i 9 4 

Goth ic A rch ite^i re 

coloration of stained glass ; but the exact reverse 
was the case ; and a marked modification took place 
in the glowing effects won by a diversity of strong 
tints. The sort of camaieu which was the result 
obliged the painter to insist more strongly on the 
modelling of the figures, and to give less importance 

to the black outline, 
which was event- 
ually suppressed 

In the sixteenth 
century painted 
glass became to a 
certain extent trans- 
lucent pictures, in 
which architectural 
fitness was no longer 
respected. Compo- 
sition lost its sim- 
plicity. A subject 
spread from panel 
to panel, regardless 

of the 



CENTURY. HEAD OF ST. PETER. t heleSS, WC forget 

the defects of this 

luxuriant development, and cease to wonder at its 
popularity, in view of that broad and vigorous exe- 
cution and beauty of colour which give it a special 
decorative value of its own. 

Enamelling is so closely allied to glass-painting 
as to claim a word for itself. Here, again, the 
decorative art of the Middle Ages was characteristic- 


ally displayed, and though the process is more 
specially applicable 
to the ornamenta- 
tion of goldsmith's 
work than to the 
decoration of large 
surfaces, it is one of 
the most brilliant 
and exquisite of the 
auxiliary arts. 

The earliest 
enamels are chainp- 
leve and cloisonne. 
By the cJiampleve 
process a hollow, 
the edges of which 
outlined the figures 
or ornaments, was 
cut in the field 
or ground of metal 
for the reception of 
the fusible enamel ; 
for cloisonne, cloi- 
sons,or slenderwalls 
of metal were fixed 
upon the field to 
separate flesh from 
draperies, and one 
tint generally from 
another. The back- 
ground the cloisons I2 7- PAINTED WINDOW OF THE FIFTEENTH 


and the flesh were 

gilt and burnished ; details were defined by 


Gothic Architecture 

engraved lines, so that the draperies only were 


Painting 197 

Fig. 1 2 8 reproduces an enamel of the close 
of the eleventh century, in which these various 
characteristics may be studied. The inscriptions on 
either side of the cross are formed by letters verti- 
cally superposed, which read downwards. 

From the beginning of the thirteenth century 
enamels were executed by the process known as 
taille d'epargne. By this method the ground was 
cut out, as described above, for the reception of the 
various ingredients which, after undergoing the 
process of firing, formed the enamel ; the draperies, 
hands, and feet of the figures which were epargnes 
(spared or left) were modelled and chased in very 
low relief; but the central figure, such as the Christ, 
and the heads of the subordinate personages or at- 
tendant angels, were always in high relief, vigorously 
modelled, and chased. 

Fig. 129, a plaque forming the cover of an 
evangelium, is a characteristic example of this class 
of enamel. It dates from the early thirteenth 
century, and is a production of the ateliers founded 
at Limoges by the monks of Solignac. 

The reliquary figured No. 130 is also a work of 
the Limousin enamellers. The methods employed 
are identical, but the carving of the figures is less 
delicate, indeed almost rudimentary, the modelling 
being replaced by hasty strokes of the graver. The 
lower panel of this reliquary represents the martyr- 
dom of Thomas a Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, 
the upper part his apotheosis. It is crowned by a 
ridge roof of two sides. 

As is well known, Thomas a Becket was 
canonised two years after his tragic death, which had 


Goth ic A rch itcctu re 

aroused general reprobation throughout Christendom. 
The universal feeling expressed itself at Limoges by 
the manufacture of a great number of reliquaries 
destined to receive relics of the sainted martyr. 


In the details of the draperies and hands of 
those portions of Fig. I 2 9 which are carved in low 
relief, we may trace the germs of those low-relief 
enamels known as translucent, or to be more exact, 
transparent enamels. This process originated i 


Painting 199 

Italy, and was commonly employed in France, and 



Goth ic A rch itectu re 

even in Germany throughout the fourteenth and 
fifteenth centuries, more especially the latter. These 
enamels could only be executed on gold and silver. 


The method consisted in modelling the design in 
very low relief on the face of the plate, which was 
then covered with a transparent enamel of few 
colours. The process was a slow and difficult one ; 

Painting 201 

the pieces were consequently very costly, and the 
demand for them proportionately restricted. 

The enamellers of the sixteenth century, especi- 
ally those who flourished at its beginning, were 
evidently inspired by these low - relief enamels to 
seek the same brilliant opalescence of effect by more 
scientific and less costly methods. But the simpli- 
fication of the process degenerated into vulgarisation, 
and its original qualities gradually faded out. Fig. 
131, representing Our Lady of Sorrows, and signed 
I. C. (Jehan Courteys or Courtois), gives some idea 
of the design, at least, of the painted enamels 
executed by the Limousin artists of the early 
sixteenth century. 

Gothic architecture, more especially in its 
religious manifestations from the twelfth to the 
fifteenth century, made its prolific influence felt, not 
only by the structural qualities of its vast and 
numerous buildings, but by those various arts 
created, perfected, or at least developed, for their 
decoration. We have traced a bare outline of its 
activities, regretting that space fails us to make an 
exhaustive study of their various manifestations. 
The priceless fragments which illustrate these off- 
shoots of an art essentially French are now the 
chief ornaments not only of French, but of all 
European museums. They take rank as factors of 
the first importance in art education, pointing the 
ay to fresh masterpieces of French genius. 





THE origin of monastic architecture is of no greater 
antiquity than the fourth century of the Christian 
era. The hermits and anchorites of the earliest 
period made their habitation in the caves and 
deserts of the Thebai'd ; their sole monument is the 
record of their virtues, which have outlived any 
buildings they may have raised during their years of 
solitude. But the first Christians who banded them- 
selves together under a common rule, and discarded 
anchoritism for the cenobitic life, marked their worldly 
pilgrimage by monuments, traces of which are still to 
be found in historic records or fragmentary remains. 

The history of abbey churches is identical with 
that of cathedrals. 1 The architectural evolutions 
and transformations which succeeded each other in 
the twelfth and thirteenth centuries manifested them- 
selves in both. Like the cathedrals, the abbey 
churches were the creation of monkish architects, and 
were carried out either under their immediate direc- 
tion or that of their pupils. 

But a kindred field of study offers itself in the 

1 See Part I., "Religious Architecture." 


Gothic Architecture 

Monastic Architecture : its Origin 207 

abbeys themselves, their organisation and adaptation 
to the domestic needs of their be-frocked inmates. 

Monastic institutions date from the Roman era. 
The first abbeys were those established in France 
in the fourth century, by St. Hilary of Poitiers and 
St. Martin of Tours. These religious associations or 
corporations, which eventually became so powerful, 
by reason not only of their numbers, but of the spirit 
which animated them, must be reckoned as among 
the most beneficent forces of the Middle Ages. 
Even from the philosophical side alone of the re- 
ligious rule under which they flourished, by virtue of 
which enlightened men wielded supreme power, they 
were admirable institutions. 

To instance one among many, the so-called Rule 
of St. Benedict is in itself a monument, the basis of 
which is discipline, the coping-stone labour. These 
are principles of undying excellence, for they are the 
expression of eternal truths. And from them our 
modern economists, who so justly exalt the system 
of co-operation, might even in these latter days draw 
inspiration as useful and as fruitful as that by which 
men were guided in the days of Benedict. 

Three great intellectual centres shed their light 
on the first centuries of the Middle Ages. These 
were Lerins, Ireland, and Monte Casino. Their 
most brilliant time was from the fourth century to 
the reign of Charlemagne, by which period they 
may be said to have prepared the way for successive 
evolutions of human knowledge, by assiduous cul- 
tivation of the sciences and arts, more especially 
architecture, in accordance with the immutable laws 
of development and progress. 

208 Gothic Architecture 

Lerins. St. Honoratus and his companions, when 
they landed in the archipelago, built on the principal 
island a chapel surrounded by the cells and buildings 
necessary for a confraternity. This took place about 
375"39 A - D - The members of the budding com- 
munity were learned monks, who had accepted the 
religious rule which had now become their law. They 
instructed neophytes sent them from the mainland, 
and their reputation grew so rapidly that Lerins soon 
took rank as a school of theology, a seminary or 
nursery whence the mediaeval church chose the 
bishops and abbots best fitted to govern her. 

The school of Lerins was so esteemed for learn- 
ing that it took an active part in the great Pelagian 
controversy which agitated Christendom at the time, 1 
and zealously advocated the doctrines of semi- 
pelagianism, but this tendency was finally subdued 
by St. Vincent of Lerins, whose ideas were more 
orthodox. The theological teaching of Lerins seems 
to have dominated, or at least to have directed re- 
ligious opinion in Gaul down to the sixth century. 

Ireland. So early as the sixth century Ireland 
was the centre of art and science in the West. The 
Irish monks had followed the oriental tradition as 
modified by its passage through Scandinavia ; they 
exercised a considerable influence on continental art 
by their manuscripts and illuminations, and prepared 
the way for the renascence of the days of Charle- 

1 Pelagianism was the heresy of the monk Pelagius, who flourished 
in the fourth century. He contested the doctrine of original sin, as 
imputed to all mankind from the fall of Adam, and taught that the 
grace of God is accorded to us in proportion to our merits. Semi- 
pelagianisui taught that man may begin the work of his own ameliora- 
tion, but cannot complete it without Divine help. 

Monastic Architecture : its Origin 209 

magne, to which such importance was given by the 
monuments of the Romanesque movement. 

St. Columba was a monk of the seminary of 
Clonard in Ireland, whence towards the close of the 
sixth century he passed over to the continent, founding 
the Abbeys of Luxeuil and Fontaine, near Besangon, 
and later that of Bobbio, in Italy, where he died in 
615. His principal work was the Rule prescribed 
to the Irish monks who had accompanied him, and 
those who took the vows of the monasteries he had 
founded. In this famous work he did not merely 
enjoin that love of God and of the brethren on which 
his Rule is based ; he demonstrated the utility 
and beauty of his maxims, which he built upon 
Scriptural precepts, and upon fundamental principles 
of morality. The school of Luxeuil became one of 
the most famous of the seventh century, and, like 
that of Lerins, the nursery of learned doctors and 
famous prelates. 

Monte Casino. In the sixth century St. Benedict 
preached Christianity in the south of Italy, where, in 
spite of Imperial edicts, Paganism still prevailed 
among the masses. He built a chapel in honour of 
St. John the Baptist on the ruins of a temple of 
Apollo, and afterwards founded a monastery to 
which he gave his Rule in 529. This was the cradle 
of the great Benedictine order. 

The number of St. Benedict's disciples grew 
apace. He had imposed on them, together with 
the voluntary obedience and subordination which 
constitute discipline, those prescriptions of his Rule, 
which demanded the partition of time between 
prayer and work. He proceeded to make a practical 


210 Gothic Architecture 

application of these principles at Monte Casino, 
the buildings of which were raised by himself and 
his companions. Barren lands were reclaimed and 
transformed into gardens for the community ; mills, 
bakehouses, and workshops for the manufacture of 
all the necessaries of life were constructed in the 
abbey precincts, with a view to rendering the con- 
fraternity self-supporting ; auxiliary buildings were 
reserved for the reception of the poor and of 
travellers. These, however, were so disposed that 
strangers were kept outside the main structure, which 
was reserved exclusively for the religious body. 

The great merit of St. Benedict, apart from his 
philosophical eminence, lies in his comprehension of 
the doctrine of labour. He was perhaps the first to 
teach that useful and intelligent work is one of the 
conditions, if not indeed the sole condition, of that 
moral perfection to which his followers were taught 
to aspire. If he had no further title to fame, this 
alone should ensure his immortality. 

" The apostles and first bishops were the natural 
guides of those who were appointed to build the 
basilicas in which the faithful met for worship. 
When at a later stage they carried the faith to 
distant provinces of the empire, they alone were able 
to indicate or to mark out with their own hands the 
lines on which buildings fitted for the new worship 
should be raised. ... St. Martin superintended the 
construction of the oratory of one of the first Gallic 
monasteries at Liguje, and later of that of Mar- 
moutier, near Tours, on the banks of the Loire. In 
the reign of Childebert, St. Germain directed the 
building of the Abbey of St. Vincent afterwards 

Monastic Architecture : its Origin 211 

re-named St. Germain - des - Pres in Paris. St. 
Benedict soon added to his Rule a decree providing 
for the teaching and study of architecture, painting, 
mosaic, sculpture, and all branches of art ; and it 
became one of the most important duties of abbots, 
priors, and deans to make designs for the churches 
and auxiliary buildings of the communities they 
ruled. From the early centuries of the Christian 
era down to the thirteenth century, therefore, archi- 
tecture was practised only by the clergy, and came 
to be regarded as a sacred science. The .most 
ancient plans now extant those of St. Gall and of 
Canterbury were traced by the monks Eigenhard 
and Edwin. . . . During the eleventh and twelfth 
centuries there rose throughout Christendom admir- 
able buildings due to the art and industry of the 
monks, who, bringing to bear upon the work their 
own researches, and the experience of past genera- 
tions, received a fresh stimulus to exertion in this 
age of universal regeneration, by the enthusiasm 
with which their kings inspired them for the vast 
ruins of the ninth century." ] 

From the earliest centuries of the Christian era 
communities both male and female had been formed 
with the object of living together under a religious 
rule ; but it seems evident that the greater number of 
monasteries owed their fame and wealth, if not their 
actual origin, to the reputation of their relics. 
These attracted the multitude. Pilgrimages became 
so frequent, and pilgrims so numerous, that it was 
found necessary to build hospices, or night-refuges, 
in various towns on their routes. A confraternity 

1 Albert Lenoir, L? Architecture Monastique ; Paris, 1856. 

212 Gothic Architecture 

of the Pilgrims of St. Michael was formed in the 
beginning of the thirteenth century in Paris, where 
the confraternity of St. James of Pilgrims had 
already built its chapel and hospital in the Rue 
St. Denis, near the city gate. 

From the seventh to the ninth century important 
abbeys flourished in nearly all the provinces now 
comprised in modern France. Later, under the 
immediate successors of Charlemagne, great monas- 
teries were founded in all the countries which made 
up his dominions. Charlemagne himself had greatly 
contributed to the development of religious institu- 
tions by his reliance on the bishops, and more 
especially the monks who represented progress, 
supported his policy, and enforced his civilising 
mission. But after his death the study of art and 
science declined so rapidly that a radical reform 
became necessary in the tenth century, a reform 
which seems to have had its birth in the Benedictine 
Abbey of Cluny, established in Burgundy about the 
year 930. 

From this hasty sketch of monastic organisation 
some idea may be gathered of the importance of 
religious institutions in the eleventh and twelfth 
centuries, and of the immense services they had 
rendered the State by diligent and useful toil, among 
the chief fruits of which must be reckoned the 
revival of agriculture, and the development of the 
sciences and arts, more especially architecture. 

Monastic architecture exercised a great and 
decisive influence upon national art by its vast 
religious buildings, the precursors of our great 

Monastic Architecture : its Origin 213 

Until the middle of the twelfth century science, 
letters, art, wealth, and above all, intelligence in 
other words, omnipotence on earth were the 
monopoly of religious bodies. It is bare historic 
justice to remember that the Middle Ages derived 
their chief title to fame, and all their intellectual 
enlightenment, from the abbeys, and that the great 
religious houses were in fact schools, the educational 
influence of which was immense. It must be borne 
in mind that if the great cathedrals of the twelfth 
and thirteenth centuries were not actually constructed 
by the monks, their architects were nevertheless the 
pupils of monks, and that it was in the abbey 
schools, so generously opened to all, that they 
imbibed the first principles of the art they afterwards 
turned to such marvellous account. 

The study of architecture in particular was not 
merely theoretical. It was demonstrated by the 
monks in their important monastic buildings, the 
crowning point of which was the abbey church, a 
structure often larger and more ornate than con- 
temporary cathedrals. 

On the plan commonly adopted, the cloister, a 
spreading lawn adorned with plants, adjoined the 
church on the north, and sometimes on the south. 
An open arcade surrounded the cloister, by means 
of which communication with all the necessary 
domestic offices was provided. Of these the 
principal were : the refectory, generally a fine vaulted 
hall, close to the kitchens ; the chapter - /louse, a 
building attached to the church, the upper story of 
which was the dormitory of the monks ; the vaulted 
cellars and granaries, above which were the lodgings 

214 Gothic Architecture 

provided for strangers ; the storerooms were con- 
nected with stables, cattle - stalls, and various out- 
door offices, often of great extent. All these 
dependencies for the service of the community were 
kept strictly separate one from another, thus all 
necessary measures were taken to provide for the 
needs and duties of hospitality without any disturb- 
ance of the religious routine. 

The abbeys of the Romanesque period were 
largely used as models in their day. They were 
modified by lay architects or monkish builders who, 
however, were careful to abate nothing of their 
perfection ; they partook of the developments which 
marked the middle of the thirteenth century, and 
were subjected to that progressive transformation, 
the great feature of which was the adoption of the 
Angevin intersecting arch, the distinguishing charac- 
teristic of Gothic architecture. 



THE Benedictines, the Cistercians, the Augustinians, 
the Premonstrants, and notably the congregation of 
Cluny were all energetic builders, and the vast and 
magnificent structures of their creation were reckoned 
the most perfect achievements of their day. The 
study of their buildings the church, the dwelling- 
places of abbot and monks, with all their depend- 
encies is most instructive. It fills us with admira- 
tion for the learning and judgment of the monkish 
builders who, accepting the limitations imposed by 
climate, locality, material, the numbers of their in- 
mates, and the resources of their order, turned them 
all to account as elements of beauty and harmony. 

The architects of the first abbeys undoubtedly 
adopted the constructive methods of the period, and 
built in the Latin, Roman, or Gallo-Roman manner. 
The double gateway of the Abbey of Cluny, the 
architect of which was probably Gauzon, sometime 
Abbot of Beaune, who laid the foundations of the 
famous monastery, is an interesting proof of this 
assertion. But monastic architecture underwent the 
same modifications to which ecclesiastical architecture 


Gothic Architecture 

had been subjected under those various influences 
which manifested themselves in the glorious monu- 
ments built from the eleventh to the thirteenth 
century, when Gothic architecture reached its 

The abbots of the many abbeys of various orders 
built throughout this period were too enlightened to 


disregard the progress of their contemporaries, and 
they promptly applied the new principles to the 
construction or embellishment of their monasteries. 

The Abbey of Cluny was founded in 909 by 
William, Duke of Aquitaine, and declared independ- 
ent by Pope John XL, who in 932 confirmed the 
duke's charter. Its rapid development and growth 
in power is sufficiently explained by the social and 
political circumstances of its origin. At the begin- 

The Abbey of Cluny Cistercian Abbeys 217 

ning of the tenth century Norman invasions and feudal 
excesses had destroyed the work of Charlemagne. 
Western Christendom seemed to lapse into barbarism 
after the havoc made by the Saracens and Northern 
pirates among towns and monasteries. Civil society 
and religious institutions had alike fallen into the 
decay born of a conflict of rights and a contempt of 
all authority. 

Cluny rapidly became a centre round which all 
the intelligence which had escaped submersion in the 
chaos of the ninth century grouped itself. Its school 
soon attained a distinction equal to that which 
marked the first great seats of learning at the be- 
ginning of the Middle Ages. Thanks to the Rule of 
St. Benedict, on which the Benedictines of Cluny 
had grounded their community, the abbey developed 
greatly in extent and wealth. Throughout the 
eleventh and twelfth centuries it seems to have 
been the prolific nursery - ground whence Europe 
drew not only teachers for other monastic schools, 
but specialists in every branch of science and of 
letters, notably architects, who aided in the expan- 
sion of Cluny and its dependencies, and further 
practically contributed to the construction of the 
numerous abbeys founded by the Benedictines 
throughout ^Western Europe, and even in the East, 
the cradle of Christianity. 

While this struggle of intelligence against ignor- 
ance was in progress, a social revolution had ac- 
complished itself by the enfranchisement of the 
communes, a development of the utmost importance 
in its relation to science, art, and material existence, 
in a word, to the whole social system. 

218 Gothic Architecture 

Architecture, that faithful expression of the 
social state which had its origin in Pagan civilisation, 
became Christianised by its culture in the abbeys, 
and in its new development rose to that pre-eminence 
the marvels of which we have already studied in the 
first part of this work. But though the successes 
achieved by the architecture of this period were 
rapid and dazzling, its decadence was profound, for 
it was induced by too radical an emancipation from 
antique principles, the superiority of which had been 
established in the first centuries of the Middle Ages. 

The Abbey of Cluny soon became too small for 
the increasing number of monks. St. Hugh under- 
took its reconstruction in the closing years of the 
eleventh century, and the monk Gauzon of Cluny 
began the works in 1089 on a much more extensive 
plan, indeed on a scale so magnificent that the 
church of the new abbey was esteemed the first in 
importance among Western buildings of the kind. 

The plan (Fig. 134) shows the arrangement of 
the abbey at the close of the eleventh century, when 
the monastic buildings had been reconstructed some 
time previously. The ancient church was intact ; the 
choir had been begun in the time of St. Hugh, but the 
building had not been consecrated till 1131. The 
chapel which precedes it on the west was completed 
so late as 1228 by Roland I., twentieth abbot of 

At A on the plan stood the entrance, the Gallo- 
Roman gateway which still exists. At B, in front 
of the church, a flight of steps led up to a square 
platform, from which rose a stone cross ; a flight of 
broad steps gave access to the chapel entrance at C, 

The Abbey of Cluny Cistercian Abbeys 219 

an open space between two square towers. The 
northern tower was built to receive the archives ; that 


on the south was known as the Tower of Justice. 
The ante-church or narthex at D seems to have been 
set apart for strangers and penitents, who were not 

220 Gothic Architecture 

allowed to enter the main building. Their place of 
worship was distinct from the abbey church, just as 
their lodging was separated from the buildings re- 
served for the brotherhood, who were permitted no 
intercourse with the outer world. At E was the 
door of the abbey church, which was only opened 
to admit some great personage whose exceptional 
privilege it was to enter the sanctuary. 

At Cluny, as at Vezelay, one of the dependencies 
of Cluny, the Galilee, which is found in all Bene- 
dictine abbeys, was built with aisles and towers on 
the same scale as an ordinary church. It communi- 
cated with the buildings set apart for guests over 
the storehouses of the abbey to the west of the 
cloister at F on the plan. From the Galilee access 
to the abbey church was obtained at E, by means of 
a single doorway, which from descriptions seems to 
have resembled the great door of the monastery 
church at Moissac in arrangement and decoration. 

The special characteristic of the Abbey Church 
of Cluny is its double transept, an arrangement we 
shall find reproduced in the great abbey churches 
of England, notably at Lincoln. According to a 
description written in the last century, the Abbey 
Church of Cluny was 410 feet long. It was built 
in the form of an archiepiscopal cross, and had two 
transepts : the first nearly 200 feet long by 30 feet 
wide ; the second, I I o feet long and wider than the 
first. The basilica, 1 1 o feet in width, was divided 
into five aisles, with semi-circular vaults supported on 
sixty -eight piers. Over three hundred narrow round- 
headed windows, high up the wall, transmitted the 
dim light that favours meditation. The high altar was 

The Abbey of Cluny Cistercian Abbeys 221 
placed immediately beyond the second transept at 


G, and the retro-choir and altar at H. The choir, 

222 Gothic Architecture 

which had two rood screens, occupied about a third 
of the nave. It contained two hundred and twenty- 
five stalls for the monks, and in the fifteenth century 
was hung with magnificent tapestries. A number of 
altars dedicated to various saints were placed against 
the screens and the piers of nave and side aisles. 
At a later period chapels were constructed along the 
aisles and on the eastern sides of the two transepts. 

Above the principal transept rose three towers 
roofed with slate ; the central, or lantern tower was 
known as the lamp tower, because from the vaults 
of the crossing below it were suspended lamps, or 
coronas of lights which were kept burning day and 
night over the high altar. 

To the south of the abbey, at F on the plan, was 
a great enclosure, surrounded by a cloister, some 
vestiges of which still remain. K and L mark the 
site of the abbatial buildings which were restored in 
the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries ; M and N the 
structures raised last century over the primitive 
foundations. To the east lay the gardens and the 
great fish-ponds which still exist, with portions of 
their enclosures. Another surviving fragment is a 
building of the thirteenth century, said to be the 
bakery, and marked O on the plan. 

The abbots who succeeded St. Hugh were unable 
to preserve the primitive conditions of the foundation. 
The excessive luxury resulting from over-prosperity 
brought about demoralisation, and by the end of 
the eleventh century discord was rife at Cluny. 

Peter the Venerable, who was elected abbot in 
i 112, restored order for a time, and established a 
chapter general, consisting of two hundred priors 

The Abbey of Cluny Cistercian Abbeys 223 

and over twelve hundred other monks. In 1158, 
at the time of Peter's death, these numbers had 
increased by more than four hundred, and the order 
had founded monasteries in the Holy Land and at 

The Abbey of Citeaux. The reform of the 
Benedictine orders became a pressing necessity, and 
St. Robert, Abbot of Solesmes, entered upon the task 
about 1098. St. Bernard continued it, after having 
quitted his abbey, with twenty-one monks of the 
order, to take refuge in the forest of Citeaux, given 
him by Don Reynard, Vicomte of Beaune. His 
main achievement was reorganisation of such a 
nature as to deal effectually with the decay of 
primitive simplicity throughout the order, which had 
completely lost touch with monastic sentiment. 

" Frequent intercourse with the outside world had 
demoralised the monks, who attracted within their 
cloister walls crowds of sightseers, guests, and 
pilgrims. The monasteries which, down to the 
eleventh century, were either built in the towns, or 
had become centres of population in consequence of 
the Norman and Saracen invasions, retained their 
character of religious seclusion only for a certain 
number of monks, who devoted themselves to 
intellectual labours. Besides which, the brethren 
had become feudal lords, holding jurisdiction side by 
side with the bishops, and St. Germain-des-Pres, 
St. Denis, St. Martin, Vendome, and Moissac owned 
no over - lordships but that of the Pope. Hence 
arose temporal cares, disputes, and even armed 
conflicts, among them. The greed and vanity of the 
abbots at least, if not of their monks, made itself 

224 Gothic Architecture . 

felt even in religious worship, and in the buildings 
consecrated thereto." 1 

St. Bernard, in an address to the monks of his 
day, reproves their degeneracy, and censures the 
exaggerated dimensions of the abbey churches, the 
splendour of their ornamentation, and the luxury of 
the abbots. O vanity of vanities ! he exclaims, and 
folly great as vanity ! The Church is bedecked in 
her walls, but naked in her poor ! She overlays her 
stones with gold, and leaves her children without 
raiment ! The curious are given distractions, and 
the miserable lack bread ! It was to suppress such 
abuses that the Cistercian order was founded by 
St. Robert and St. Bernard, and also to put an end 
to the disputes arising from ecclesiastical jurisdiction 
by making the new abbeys dependencies of the 
bishoprics. They were to be built in solitary places, 
" and to nourish their inmates by agriculture. It was 
forbidden to found them over the tombs of saints, 
for fear of attracting pilgrims, who would bring 
worldly distractions in their train. The buildings 
themselves were to be solid, and built of good free- 
stone, but without any sort of extraneous ornament ; 
the only towers allowed were small belfries, some- 
times of stone, but more usually of wood." 2 

The Cistercian order was founded in 1119, and 
St. Robert imposed the Rule of St. Benedict in its 
primitive severity. To mark his separation from 
the degenerate Benedictines, whose dress was 
black, he gave his monks a brown habit. After 
determining their religious duties he gave minute 

1 Anthyme St. Paul, Histoire Monumentale de la France. 
2 Ibid. 

Tke Abbey of Cluny Cistercian Abbeys 225 

instructions as to the arrangement of the buildings. 
The condition chiefly insisted upon was that the 
site of the monastery should be of such extent and 
so ordered that the necessaries of life could be 
provided within its precincts. Thus all causes of 
distraction through communication with the outside 
world were removed. The monasteries, whenever 
possible, were to be built beside a stream or river ; 
they were to contain, independently of the claustral 
buildings, the church and the abbot's dwelling, 
which was outside the principal enclosure, a mill, 
a bakehouse, and workshops for the manufacture 
of all things requisite to the community, besides 
gardens for the use and pleasure of the monks. 

The Abbey of Clairvaux was an embodiment of 
the reforms brought about by St. Robert, and later 
by St. Bernard. The general arrangement and the 
details of service were almost identical with those of 
Citeaux, just as Citeaux itself had been modelled 
upon Cluny in all respects, save that a severe 
observance of the primitive Benedictine rule was 
insisted upon in the disposition of the later founda- 
tion. All superfluities were proscribed, and the 
rules which enjoined absolute seclusion as a means 
towards moral perfection were sternly enforced. 

The result is undoubtedly interesting as a re- 
ligious revival ; but we may be permitted to regret 
that the intellectual impetus given to art progress by 
the great Benedictine lords spiritual of Cluny should 
have been checked by the frigid utilitarianism to 
which architecture -then an epitome of all the arts 
was reduced by the purists of Citeaux in its 
application to the monasteries of the reform. 


226 Gothic Architecture 

The Cistercian monuments are not, however, 
wanting in interest. 

Of Clairvaux and Citeaux little remains but 
fragments embedded in a mass of modern buildings, 
for the most part restorations of the last century. 
As records these are less to be relied upon than the 
historical and archaeological documents which guided 
Viollet-le-Duc in his graphic reconstruction of famous 
Cistercian abbeys, an essay not to be bettered as a 
piece of lucid demonstration (see his Dictionary, 
vol. i. pp. 263-271). 



IN the eleventh century a large number of monas- 
teries had been built throughout Western Europe by 
monks of various orders, in imitation of the great 
monastic schools of Lerins, Ireland, and Monte 
Casino. Among the famous abbeys of this period 
may be mentioned " Vezelay and Fecamp, sometime 
convents for women, afterwards converted into 
abbeys for men ; St. Nicaise, at Rheims ; Nogent- 
sous-Coucy, in Picardy ; Anchin and Annouain, in 
Artois ; St. Etienne, at Caen ; St. Pierre-sur-Dives, 
Le Bee, Conches, Cerisy-la-Foret, 1 and Lessay, in 
Normandy ; La Trinite, at Vendome ; Beaulieu, 
near Loches ; Montierneuf, at Poitiers, etc." 2 

The Abbeys of Fulde, in Hesse, and of Corvey, 
in Westphalia, the latter founded by Benedictine 
monks from the Abbey of Corbie, in Picardy, were 
in their day the chief centres of learning in Germany. 

In England St. Alban's Abbey, in Hertfordshire, 
was built in 1077 by a disciple of Lanfranc, the 
illustrious abbot of the famous Abbey of Le Bee, in 

1 L ^Architecture Roniane, by Ed. Corroyer, chap. iii. part ii. 
2 Anthyme St. Paul, Histoire Momunentale de la France. 

22 8 Gothic Architecture 

Normandy. A large number of monasteries were 


Abbeys and Carthusian Monasteries 229 

founded later on by various orders, notably the 
Benedictines Croyland, Malmesbury, Bury St. 
Edmund's, Peterborough, Salisbury, Wimborne, 
Wearmouth, Westminster, etc., not to mention the 
abbeys and priories which had existed in Ireland 
from the sixth century. 

The mother abbey of Citeaux gave birth to four 
daughters Clairvaux, Pontigny, Morimond, and La 

The importance of Clairvaux was much increased 
in the first years of the twelfth century by the fame 
of her abbot, St. Bernard, that most brilliant embodi- 
ment of mediaeval monasticism. His influence was 
immense, not alone in his character of reformer and 
founder of an important order, but as a statesman 
whom fortune persistently favoured in all enterprises 
tending to the increase of his great reputation. 

St. Bernard distinguished himself in the theo- 
logical controversies of his century at the Council of 
Sens in 1140, and in successful polemical disputa- 
tions with Abelard, the famous advocate of free 
will, and other heterodox philosophers who heralded 
the Reformation of the sixteenth century. Some- 
what later he took an active part in promoting the 
hapless second Crusade under Louis VII., and in 
1147, a few years before his death, he entered 
vigorously into the Manichaean controversy as a 
strenuous opponent of the heresy which was then 
agitating the public mind and preparing the way for 
the schism which, at the beginning of the thirteenth 
century, brought about the terrible war of the 
Albigenses, and steeped Southern France in blood. 

The monastic fame of St. Bernard was established 

2 3 

Gothic Architecture 

not only by the searching reforms he instituted at 
Clairvaux among the seceding monks of Cluny and 
Solesmes, but by the success of the Cistercian 
colonies he planted in Italy, Spain, Sweden, and 
Denmark, to the number of seventy-two, according to 
his historians. 

During his lifetime the poor hermitage of the 
Vallee d! Absinthe (which name he changed to Clairc- 


Vallee, Clairvaux) had become a vast feudal settle- 
ment of many farms and holdings, rich enough to 
support more than seven hundred monks. The 
monastery was surrounded by walls more than half 
a league in extent, and the abbot's domicile had 
become a seignorial mansion. As the fount of the 
order, and mother of all the auxiliary houses, Clair- 
vaux was supreme over a hundred and sixty monas- 
teries in France and abroad. Fifty years after the 
death of St. Bernard the importance of the order 

Abbeys and Carthitsian Monasteries 231 

232 Gothic Architecture 

had become colossal. During the thirteenth century, 
and from that time onwards, the Cistercian or 
Bernardine monks built immense abbeys, and 
decorated them with royal magnificence. Their 
establishments contained churches equal in dimension 
to the largest cathedrals of the period, abbatial 


dwellings adorned with paintings, and boasting 
oratories which, as at Chaalis, were Stes. Chapelles as 
splendid as that of St. Louis in Paris. The very 
cellars held works of art in the shape of huge casks 
elaborately carved. 

Thus, by a strange recurrence of conditions, the 
settlements founded on a basis of the most rigorous 
austerity by the ascetics who had fled from the 
splendours of Solesmes and Cluny to the forest, 

Abbeys and Carthusian Monasteries 233 

became in their turn vaster, richer, and more 
sumptuous than those the magnificence of which 
they existed to rebuke. With this difference, how- 
ever : the ruin brought about by the luxury of the 
Cistercian establishment was so complete that no- 
thing of their innumerable monasteries was spared by 


social revolution but a few archaeologic fragments and 
historic memories. 

The influence of the Cistercian foundation ex- 
tended to various countries of Europe. It was 
manifested in Spain, at the great Abbey of Alcobaco, 
in Estramadura, said to have been built by monkish 
envoys of St. Bernard ; in Sicily, in the rich archi- 
tectural detail of the Abbey of Monreale ; and 
in Germany, in the foundation of such abbeys as 
those of Altenberg in Westphalia, and Maulbronn in 

234 Gothic Architecture 

Wurtemberg. In 1133 Everard, Count of Berg, 
invited monks of Citeaux to settle in his dominions, 
and in 1145 they founded a magnificent abbey on 
the banks of the Dheen, which was held by the 
Cistercian order down to the period of the Revolu- 
tion, when it shared the fate of other religious 

The Cistercian Abbey of Maulbronn is the best 
preserved of those which owed their origin to St. 
Bernard throughout the twelfth and thirteenth 
centuries. The abbey church, the cloister, the re- 
fectory, the chapter -house, the cellars, the store- 
rooms, the barns, and the abbot's lodging, the latter 
united to the other buildings by a covered gallery, 
still exist in their original condition. More mani- 
festly even than Altenberg does the Abbey of 
Maulbronn prove that simplicity marked the pro- 
ceedings of the Benedictines during the first years 
of the twelfth century, under the rule or influence of 
St. Bernard. From this period onward Cistercian 
brotherhoods multiplied with great rapidity in the 
provinces which were to form modern France. 

In the Ile-de-France the ruins of Ourscamp, near 
Noyon, of Chaalis, near Senlis, of Longpont and 
of Vaux-de-Cernay, near Paris, bear witness to the 
monumental grandeur of once famous and important 
abbeys. The monasteries and priories of the twelfth 
century are numerous in Provence ; we may name 
Senanque, Silvacane, Thoronet, and Montmajour, near 
Aries, at the extremity of the valley of Les Baux. 
Among the abbeys founded in the thirteenth century 
were Royaumont, in the Ile-de-France ; Vaucelles, 
near Cambrai ; Preuilly-en-Brie ; La Trappe, in Le 

Abbeys and Carthusian Monasteries 235 

Perche ; Breuil-Benoit, Mortemer, and Bonport, in 
Normandy ; Boschaud, in Perigord ; 1'Escale-Dieu, 
in Bigorre ; Les Feuillants, Nizors, and Bonnefont, 
in Comminges ; Granselve and Baulbonne, near 
Toulouse ; Floran, Valmagne, and Fontfroide, in 
Languedoc ; Fontenay, in Burgundy, etc. 


Towards the close of the eleventh and the be- 
ginning of the twelfth century other fraternities had 
been formed in the same spirit as that of Citeaux ; 
" in the first rank of these was the Order of the 
Premonstrants, so named from the mother abbey 
founded in i i 1 9 by St. Norbert at Premontre, near 
Coucy." 1 

1 Anthyme St. Paul, Histoirc Monumentah de la France. 

236 Gothic Architecture 

To this order the monastery of St. Martin at 


Abbeys and Carthusian Monasteries 237 

Laon, and others in Champagne, Artois, Brittany, 
and Normandy owed their origin. 

In the early part of the twelfth century Robert 
d'Arbrisselles founded several double monasteries for 
men and women, on the model of those built in 
Spain in the ninth century ; that of Fontevrault was 


not more successful as a monastic experiment than 
the rest, but it gave rise to a number of superb 
buildings. The abbey itself contributed in no slight 
degree to the progress of architecture, which developed 
in Anjou at the dawn of the twelfth century, and 
manifested itself principally at Angers in works the 
supreme importance of which we have dwelt upon in 
the early part of this volume. 

238 Gothic Architecture 

The episcopal churches also owned claustral 
buildings for the accommodation of the cathedral 
clergy who lived together in communities according 
to the ancient usage which obtained down to the 
fifteenth century. The Cathedrals of Aix, Aries, 
and Cavaillon, in Provence, of Elne, in Roussillon, 
of Puy, in Velay, of St. Bertrand, in Comminges, 
still preserve their cloisters of the twelfth century. 

The Abbey of La Chaise Dieu, in Auvergne, 
founded in the eleventh century, was one of the 
monastic schools which rose to great importance, 
mainly through the talents of its monkish architect 
and sculptor, Guinamaud, who established its re- 
putation as an art centre. By the close of the 
twelfth century La Chaise Dieu was turning out 
proficients in sculpture, painting, and goldsmith's 

The buildings of La Chaise Dieu were recon- 
structed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. 

The order of preaching friars, founded by St. 
Dominic in the early part of the thirteenth century, 
is noted rather for its intellectual than for its archi- 
tectural achievements ; the fame of the Dominicans 
rests upon their preaching and writings, not upon 
the number or magnificence of their monasteries. 

About the same period St. Francis of Assisi 
founded the order of minor friars, who professed 
absolute poverty a profession which, however, did 
not prevent their becoming richer at last than their 
forerunners. These two orders preaching and 
mendicant friars, apparently formed in protest against 
the supremacy of the Benedictines were strongly 
supported by St. Louis, who also protected other 

Abbeys and Carthusian Monasteries 239 

orders, such as the Augustinians and Carmelites, by 
way of balancing the power of the Clunisians and 

To the preaching friars St. Louis granted the site 
of the Church of St. Jacques, in the Rue St. Jacques, 
p ar i s whence the name Jacobin as applied to 


monks of the Dominican order, and here they built 
in I 22 i the Jacobin monastery, the church of which, 
like those of Agen and Toulouse, has the double 
nave peculiar to the churches of the preaching 

From the thirteenth century onwards the arrange- 
ment of the abbeys diverges more and more from 

240 Gothic Architecture 

the Benedictine system in the direction of secular 
models. The daily life of the abbots had come to 
differ but little from that of the laymen of their 
time, and as a natural consequence, monastic archi- 
tecture lost its distinguishing characteristics. 

The Rule of the Carthusian Order, founded 
towards the close of the eleventh century by St. 
Bruno, was of such extreme austerity, and was so 
persistently adhered to down to the fifteenth century, 
at least, that we need not wonder to find no vestiges 
of buildings erected by this community contempor- 
aneously with those of other great foundations. The 
Carthusians clung longer than any of their brethren 
to the vows of poverty and humility which obliged 
them to live like anchorites, though dwelling under 
one roof. Far from living in common, on the 
cenobitic method, after the manner of the Bene- 
dictines and Cistercians, they maintained the cellular 
system in all its severity. Absolute silence further 
aggravated the complete isolation which encouraged 
them to scorn all that might alleviate or modify the 
rigours of their religious duties. 

In time, however, the Carthusians relaxed some- 
thing of this extreme asceticism in their monastic 
buildings, if not in their religious observances. 
Towards the fifteenth century they did homage to 
art by the construction of monasteries which, 
though falling short of the Cistercian monuments 
in magnificence, are of much interest from their 
peculiarities of arrangement. 

The ordinary buildings comprised the gate-house, 
giving access by a single door to the courtyard of 
the monastery, where stood the church, the prior's 

A 6 beys and Carthusian Monasteries 241 

lodging, the hostelry for guests and pilgrims, the 
laundry, the bakehouse, the cattlesheds, storerooms, 
and dovecote. The church communicated with an 
interior cloister, giving access to the chapter-house 
and refectory, which latter were only open to the 
monks at certain annual festivals. The typical 
feature of St. Bruno's more characteristic monasteries 
is the great cloister, on the true Carthusian model 
that is to say, rectangular in form, and surrounded 
by an arcade, on which the cells of the monks open. 
Each of these cells was a little self-contained 
habitation, and had its own garden. The door of 
each cell was provided with a wicket, through which 
a lay brother passed the slender meal of the Car- 
thusian who was forbidden to communicate with his 

The Rule of St. Bruno, as is commonly known, 
enjoins the life of an anchorite ; the Carthusian must 
work, eat, and drink in solitude ; speech is interdicted ; 
on meeting, the brethren are commanded to salute 
each other in silence ; they assemble only in church 
for certain services prescribed by the Rule, and 
their meals, none too numerous at any time, were 
only taken in common on certain days in the 

The severity of these conditions explains the 
extreme austerity of Carthusian architecture. It 
had, as we have already said, no real development 
until the fifteenth century, and then only as regards 
certain portions of the monastery, such as the church 
and its cloister, which were in strong contrast with 
the compulsory bareness of the great cloister of the 


Gothic Architecture 

The ancient Chartreuse of Villefranche de 
Rouergue, either built or reconstructed in the 
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, still preserves some 
remarkable features. The plan, and the bird's-eye 
view (Figs. 145 and 146) from L Encyclopedie de 
r Architecture et de la Construction, gives an exact idea 
of the monastery. Some of the cells are still intact, 


also the refectory, and certain other portions of the 
primitive structure. 

In spite of the rigidity of the Rule of St. Bruno 
certain foundations of his order became famous, 
notably the monastery established by the Carthusians 
on the invitation of St. Louis in the celebrated castle 
of Vauvert, beyond the walls of Paris, near the Route 
d'Issy. The castle was regarded with terror by the 

Abbeys and Carthusian Monasteries 243 

Parisians, who declared it to be haunted by the devil, 
whence the popular expression : aller au diable 
Vauvert, which later was corrupted into aller au 


diable au vert. The Carthusians, nevertheless, took 
up their quarters in the stronghold, and enriched it 
with a splendid church built by Pierre de Montereau, 
the foundation stone of which was laid by St. Louis 
in 1260, The Chartreuse of Vauvert developed 


Gothic A rchitecture 

greatly, and became one of the most famous of the 
order. It was in the lesser cloister of this monastery 


that the artist Eustache Le Sueur painted his famous 
frescoes from the life of St. Bruno in the beginning 
of the seventeenth century. 

Abbeys and Carthusian Monasteries 245 

The most famous Carthusian monasteries of Italy 
are those of Florence, which dates from the middle 
of the fourteenth century, and is attributed in part 
to Orcagna, and of Pavia, founded at the close 
of the fourteenth century by Giovanni Galeazzo 

The French Carthusian monasteries of greatest 


interest after Vauvert, which had the special 
advantage of royal protection, are those of Clermont, 
in Auvergne, Villefranche de Rouergue (Figs. 145 
and 146), Villeneuve-lez-Avignon, and Montrieux, in 
Var. The Chartreuse of Dijon is one of the most 
ancient, not only as to its buildings, which are the 
work of the Duke of Burgundy's architects, but in 
respect of its famous sculptures of the tomb of Philip 
the Bold, and his wife, Margaret of Flanders, and those 

246 Gothic Architecture 

of the Well of Moses, carved by the Burgundian 
brothers, Claux Suter, who flourished at the close of 
the fourteenth century, and had much to do with the 
revival of art at that period. 1 

But the most imposing of all, and the most 
famous, if not the most beautiful, is that in the 
mountains near Grenoble, universally known as La 
Grande Chartreuse. 

The original monastery is said to have been 
founded by St. Bruno. It consisted merely of a 
humble chapel and a few isolated cells, which are 
supposed to have occupied the site in the Desert^ on 
which the Chapels of St. Bruno and St. Mary now 
stand. The existing buildings were reconstructed 
in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in the 
manner of the day, of which the arcades of the great 
cloister are good examples. The present church, 
which is extremely simple in design, has preserved 
nothing of its sixteenth -century decoration but the 
choir stalls. The great cloister consists of an 
arcaded gallery, on which the sixty cells of the 
monks open. It is arranged in strict accordance 
with the Rule of St. Bruno as regards its connection 
with the main buildings, the chief features of which 
we have already pointed out. 

1 See Part I., "Sculpture." 



THE monasteries built throughout the twelfth cen- 
tury were provided with outer walls, by means of 
which the claustral buildings, offices, workshops, and 
even farms of the community were enclosed. Thus 
all the necessaries of life were produced within the 
precincts, and all communication with the outside 
world was avoided. 

But by the end of the century the great abbeys 
had become feudal castles ; and fortified walls were 
raised around them, often embracing the town which 
had grown up under their protection and shared 
their fortunes. This was the case at Cluny, and the 
town acknowledged its obligations to the monks by 
the payment of tithes. 

In the reign of Philip Augustus and St. Louis 
the abbots were not only the heads of their monas- 
teries but feudal chieftains, vassals of the royal 
power, and as such obliged to furnish the sovereign 
with men-at-arms in time of war, and to maintain a 
garrison when required. 1 

1 See Part III., " Military Architecture," Abbey of Mont St. Michel. 

248 GotJdc Arckite&ure 

The Abbey of Tournus was, like Cluny, sur- 
rounded by walls connected with the city ramparts. 

The Abbey of St. Allyre, in Auvergne, near 
Clermont, was defended by walls and towers, which 
seem to have been added to the original structure 
of the ninth century at some period during the 
thirteenth, when such fortification of religious houses 
became necessary. 


In many other monasteries a system of defence 
more or less elaborate was adopted ; but the most 
famous of all the abbeys built by the Benedictines 
was unquestionably Mont St. Michel, which, for 
boldness and grandeur of design, is unique among 
military and monastic monuments from the eleventh 
to the close of the fifteenth century. 

The Abbey of Mont St. Michel was founded in 
708 by St. Aubert, according to tradition. At the 

Fortified Abbeys 




Key to Plan. A. Tower known as the TourClandine. Ramparts. B. Barbican. 
Entrance to the abbey. B'. Ruin of the stairway known as the Grand Degrt. C. 
Gate-house. D. Guard -room known as Bellechaise. E. Tower known as the Tour 
Perrine. F. Steward's lodging and Bailey. G. Abbot's lodging. G'. Abbatial 
buildings. G". Chapel of St. Catherine. H. Courtyard of the church, great stairway. 
I. Courtyard of the Meweille. J, K. Almonry, cellar (of the Merveille). L. Formerly 
the abbatial buildings. M. Gallery or crypt known as the Galerie de I'Aqnilon (of 
the North Wind). N. Hostelry (Robert de Thorigni). O. Passages connecting 
the abbey with the hostelry. P, P'. Prison and dungeon. R, S. Staircase. 
T. Modern wall of abutment. U. Garden, terraces, and covered way. V. Body 
of rock. 

2 5 

Gothic Architecture 


KNIGHTS' HALL. For Key to Plan see opposite page. 

Fortified A bbeys 2 5 1 

close of the tenth century it was restored by Richard 
Sans Peur, third Duke of Normandy, with the help 
of the Benedictine monks from Monte Casino, 
whom he had installed at St. Michel in 966. It 
increased greatly in wealth and extent in the eleventh 
century, and by the end of the twelfth was in the 
full tide of its prosperity. Its buildings, however 
had not yet that importance to which they attained 
in the following century. 1 In the twelfth century 
they consisted of the church, which was built between 
1 020 and 1135 2 and the monastic buildings proper 
(lieux reguliers), with lodgings for servants and 
guests to the north of the nave, at G, G', and F on 
the plan, Fig. 152. To these, which were restored 
or reconstructed in a great measure by the Abbot 
Roger II. at the beginning of the twelfth century, 
additions were made on the south and south-east by 
Robert de Thorigni from 1 1 54 to 1 186. 
The monastery was not then fortified. 

1 Description de FAbbaye du Mont St. Michel, by Ed. Corroyer ; 
Paris, 1877. This work was crowned by the Institute in 1879, at the 
Contours des Antiquites Nationales. 

- See L 1 Architecture Romane, by Ed. Corroyer ; Paris, Maison 
Quantin, 1888. 

Key to Plan. A. Lower church. B, B'. Chapels beneath the transepts. C. 
Substructure of Romanesque nave. C, C', and C". Charnel-house or burying-place 
of the monks, and substructure of south platform. D. Formerly the cistern. E. 
Formerly the claustral buildings. Refectory. F. Formerly the cloister or ambu- 
latory. G. Passage communicating with the hostelry. H, I. Hostelry and offices 
(Robert de Thorigni). J. Chapel of hostelry (St. tienne). K, K', L, M. Refec- 
tory. Tower known as the Tour des Corbins (Tower of Crows). Chapter-house, or 
hall of the knights, Galilee or narthex (Merveille). N. Hall of the military 
executive, or hall of the officers. O. Tower known as the Tour Perrine. P. 
Battlements of the gate-house. Q. Courtyard of the Merveille. R, S. Staircase 
and terrace of the apse. T. Courtyard of the church. U. Fortified bridge con- 
necting the lower church with the abbey buildings. V, X. Abbot's lodging. 
Accommodation for guests. Y, Y'. Cisterns of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. 
Z. Body of rock. 


Gothic Architecture 


Key to Plan.k, A', A." Church, choir, and transepts. B, B', B". Three first 
bays of nave, destroyed in 1776. C, C', C". Towers and porch (Robert de Thorigni). 
D. Tomb of Robert de Thorigni. E. Formerly the terrace in front of the church. 
F. Formerly the chapter-house. G, G'. Formerly the claustral buildings. Dormitory. 
H. Platform at the southern entrance of the church. I. Ruin of the hostelry 
(Robert de Thorigni). J. Infirmary. K. Dormitories of the thirteenth century 
(Merveille). K'. Tower, known as the Tour des Corbins (thirteenth century, 
Merveille). L, L'. Cloister and archives (thirteenth century, Merveille). M. 
Vestry (thirteenth century, Merz'eille). N. Abbot's lodging. O. Accommodation 
for guests. P. Courtyard of the Merveille. P'. Terrace of the apse. Q. Court- 
yard of the church and great staircase. 

Fortified A bbeys 253 


Built on the summit of a rock, the impregnable 
steepness of which provided a natural rampart north 
and west, it depended solely upon the advantages of 
its position for defence. Its situation in the midst 
of a treacherous sandy plain a position which gave 
rise to the mediaeval name, Le Mont St. Michel au 
Peril de la Mer secured it against attempts at 
investiture, and even to a great extent against 
sudden assaults. Enclosures of stone or wooden 
fences surrounded it at those points on the east 


where the less rugged nature of the surface rendered 
access comparatively easy, and where stood the 
entrance, with the various habitations which had 
grouped themselves round it. The so-called town 
had been founded in the tenth century by a few 
families decimated by the Normans, in their raids 
upon Avranches and its neighbourhood after the 
death of Charlemagne. In the thirteenth century it 
consisted of a small number of houses which, by 

1 Description de FAbbaye dn Mont St. Michel et de ses Abords, by 
Ed. Corroyer ; Paris, 1877. 

254 Gothic Architecture 

way of security against the vagaries of the sea, were 
built upon the highest point of the rock to the east. 

In 1203 the greater part of the abbey, the church 
excepted, was destroyed during the wars between 
Philip Augustus, King of France, and John, King 
of England. 

Historic records prove conclusively that the abbey 
had no defensive works properly so-called in the 
twelfth and early part of the thirteenth century. 

From this period onwards abbeys, more especially 


those of the Benedictine orders, were transformed 
into regular fortresses capable of sustaining a siege. 
The abbots, in their character of feudal lords, fortified 
their monasteries to ensure them against disasters 
such as had marked the early years of the thirteenth 
century. Mont St. Michel is one of the most curious 
examples of such fortification. 

The original architects of the abbey seem to 
have been unwilling to diminish the height of the 
mount by levelling. Resolving to detract in no 
degree from the majesty of so splendid a base for 

Fortified A bbeys 255 

their church, they set about their work on the same 
principle as the pyramid builders. Our illustrations 
show how the buildings were raised partly on 
plateaux circumscribing the apex of the mount, 
partly on that apex itself. The result is that the 
monastery, as we see it, has a core of rock rising at 
its highest point to the very floor of the church. 
The ring of lower stories rests upon walls of great 
thickness, and upon piers united by vaults, the whole 
forming a substructure of perfect solidity. 

The section made through the transept (Fig. 153) 
gives an exact idea of the portion which dates from 
the eleventh and twelfth centuries, and of the build- 
ings which gradually grouped themselves round this 
nucleus, such as the so-called Meweille (Marvel) to 
the north, and the abbot's lodging to the south. 

The longitudinal section (Fig. 154) shows the 
crypt, or lower church. This was not, as has been 
frequently asserted, actually hollowed out of the 
rock ; it was, however, very ingeniously contrived in 
the fifteenth century over the ruins of the Roman- 
esque church in the space between the declivity of 
the mount and the artificial plateau of the earlier 
architects. The substructures of the Romanesque 
church which were enlarged by Robert de Thorigni 
in the thirteenth century are indicated in this diagram. 
They are of gigantic proportions, especially towards 
the west. 

Fig. i 5 5 shows the so-called Galerie de VAquilon 
(Gallery of the North Wind), one of the upper stories 
of the claustral buildings to the north of the church 
constructed by Roger II., eleventh abbot (1106-1122). 

After the fire of 1203, when the abbey had 

256 Gothic Architecture 

become a feof of the royal domain, the Abbot 



Gothic Architecture 

Jourdain and his successors rebuilt it almost entirely, 
with the exception of the church. 


As the peculiarities of the site made it impossible 
to adhere strictly to the Benedictine system of direct 
communication between the main buildings and the 

Fortified Abbeys 


church, the lieux reguliers, or accommodation reserved 
for the monks, were disposed above the magnificent 
building to the north of the church, which, from the 


time of its foundation, was known as La Merveille 
(the Marvel). 

This vast structure fairly takes rank as the 
grandest example of combined religious and military 
architecture of the finest mediaeval period. 

260 Gothic Architecture 

The Merveille consists of three stories, two of 


which are vaulted. The lowest contains the almonry 

Fortified A bbeys 2 6 1 

and cellar ; the intermediate story the refectory 
and the knights' hall ; the third the dormitory 
and cloister. The building consists of two wings 
running east and west ; the apartments are super- 
posed as follows : In the east wing the almonry, the 
refectory, and the dormitory ; in the west the cellar, 
the knights' hall, and the cloister. 1 

This splendid structure is built entirely of granite. 
It was carried out by one continuous effort, under 
the inspiration of an incomparably bold and learned 
design of the Abbe Jourdain, to which his successors 
religiously adhered. 

The undertaking was entered upon in 1203 and 
finished in 1228, the final achievement being the 
cloister, the architects or sculptors of which are 
commemorated by an inscription in the spandril of 
one of the arcades in the south walk. 

To fully appreciate this stupendous monument, 
we must realise the extraordinary energy which 
enabled its architects to complete it in the com- 
paratively short space of twenty-five years. We 
must take into account the conditions of its growth, 
its situation on the very summit of a rugged cliff, 
cut off from the mainland at times by the sea, at 
other times by an expanse of treacherous quicksand. 
We must consider the enormous difficulties of trans- 
porting materials, seeing that all the granite used 
was quarried by the monks from the neighbouring 
coast. It is true that an unimportant quota of the 
stone was dug from the base of the rock itself. But 
though the passage across the sands was by this 

1 Description de VAbbaye dti Mont St. Michel et de ses Abords, 
by Ed. Corroyer ; Paris, 1877. 


Gothic Architecture 

means avoided, the difficulties of raising great masses 
of stone to the foot of the Merveille, the foundations 
of which are over 160 feet above the sea-level, had 


still to be met. It seems certain that the east and 
west buildings of which the Merveille consists were 
built at the same time, for though certain differences 

Fortified A bbeys 263 

are perceptible in the form of the exterior buttresses, 
they evidently result from the interior formation of 
the various apartments. A study of the plans, 


sections, and facades of the buildings is convincing 
on this head, and the general arrangements, notably 
that of the staircase, all point to the same conclusion. 

264 Gothic Architecture 

This staircase is a spiral in the thickness of the 
buttress which, with its crowning octagonal turret, 
forms the point of junction between the two buildings. 
It winds from the almonry of the eastern ground- 
floor to the knights' hall on the west, passing 
through the dormitory of the eastern block to 
terminate in the northern embattlement above. 

The eastern and northern facades of the Merveille 
are models of severe and virile beauty ; a massive 


grandeur characterises them, especially striking and 
impressive in the northern front as viewed from the 
sea. The vast walls of granite (the material used 
throughout, save in the inner walk of the cloister) 
are pierced with windows varying in shape according 
to the character of the rooms they light. Those of 
the dormitory are very remarkable. They are long 
and narrow, and affect the aspect of loopholes, 
deeply splayed outwards ; the peculiar form of the 
honeycombed window-heads suggests a reminiscence 

Fortified Abbeys 265 

of Arab types seen by the French Crusaders in 
Palestine. The thrusts of the interior vaulting are 
met on the exterior by massive buttresses, the 
vigorous profiles of which contribute greatly to the 
nobility of the general effect. 

These formidable facades were practically forti- 
fications, but the Merveille was further defended to 
the north by an embattled wall, flanked by a tower 
which served as a post for watchmen, to which the 
covered ways running round the base of the western 
buildings converged. 

In the middle, on a level with the north-west 
angle of the Merveille, a chatelet, or miniature keep, 
now destroyed, guarded the rugged passage between 
embattled walls which led to the Fountain of St. 
Aubert, and was known as the Passage du Degre 
(passage of the stairway). 

The various buildings of the abbey which were 
added in the fourteenth century, after the construc- 
tion of the Merveille, are : the abbot's lodging, with 
its offices on the south, and certain military works 
which completed the defensive system. In the 
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries these were gradu- 
ally extended to the walls of the town, as we shall 
see in Part III., " Military Architecture." 





THE distinctive character of military architecture 
in the Middle Ages must be sought in defensive 
fortification. In all other respects its constructive 
methods were identical with those employed in 
architectural works generally. The few ornamental 
features of military buildings, as, for instance, the 
interior vaults and the profiles of consoles and 
cornices, diverge but slightly from the accepted 
types of such features in the churches, monasteries, 
and domestic structures of the period. 

The Latin, Roman, Gallo- Roman, Romanesque, 
and Gothic architects were versed in every depart- 
ment of the art they practised. The same architect 
was called upon to construct the church and the 
fortress, the abbey, and the ramparts which were 
often its necessary complement, the donjon, and 
castle, the town hall, the hospital, the rural barn, and 
the urban dwelling. He was responsible not only 
for the inception of every class and form of building, 
but for its successful elaboration ; on him alone the 
responsibility of its execution rested ; no scientific 
specialist checked his conclusions and verified his 

270 Gothic Architecture 

calculations as in our own time. The system by 


which the architect and the engineer have each 

CircuiHvallation of Towns 271 

their separate functions and responsibilities in the 
construction of the same building was unknown. 
The builder, or mason, as some would have him 
called, was an architect in the fullest sense ; he him- 
self traced the diagrams of his conceptions, and 
directed the execution of every detail, careful alike 
of stability and beauty. 

It is a curious and disheartening phenomenon 
that such a direct contravention of the principles of 
mediaeval art as the modern system of divided 
responsibility implies, should obtain only among the 
French, the very people to whom Western Europe 
owes its initiation into those principles. In 
England, in Belgium, in Holland, Switzerland, and 
Germany the architect is also the engineer ; the 
science and the art of his craft are inseparable. 
" This intimate union of qualities gives an in- 
dividuality to certain productions of these nations 
which we might well lay to heart and make the 
subject of serious comparative study. We must 
needs admit to begin with that we ourselves have 
become disciples rather than pioneers in a great 
movement." x 

The one preoccupation of the modern engineer 
seems to be the satisfaction of imperious necessity. 
He is inclined to neglect all that mathematics can- 
not give him. And yet he has brought about a 
very sensible progress by his mathematical applica- 
tion of modern science. He has unquestionably 
excelled in industrial masterpieces perfectly adapted 
to the needs of the moment, if wanting in the 

1 " L'Art a 1' Exposition, " /. 'A nhitecture, by Ed. Corroyer ; Paris. 
L? Illustration, for 25th May 1889. 

272 Gothic Architecture 

qualities that make for immortality. We accept 
with qualified admiration his marvellous bridges and 
kindred works in metal marvellous yet ephemeral ; 
but we accept them merely as a temporary substitute 
for the more solid if less showy stone bridges of our 
early architects. 

We would not have the servant of yesterday 
the master of to-morrow. We protest against the 
degradation of the architect from his high and noble 
estate to the rank of a mere decorator, however 
skilful. We would not witness the extinction of the 
ancient French traditions which inspired so many 
masterpieces, and to which we look as the source of 
many yet to come. 

It appears, moreover, that the general acceptation 
of the word ingtnieur (engineer) is a totally mistaken 
one. It is derived from the mediaeval term engigneur, 
which was very differently applied. 

The architect and the engineer of our own day 
are both constructors, but with a difference. The 
architect loves and cultivates his art ; the engineer, 
with few exceptions, despises, or affects to despise, 

In the Middle Ages their functions were perfectly 
distinct. The architect constructed what the en- 
gigneur used his utmost cunning to destroy. The 
architect built ramparts and strengthened them with 
towers ; the engigneur undermined them if attacking, 
or countermined them if defending. It was his 
business to invent or direct the use of engines of war, 
such as rams, mangonels, arblasts, and machines for 
the slinging of enormous projectiles, or grenades. 
He constructed the portable wooden towers which 

Circumvallation of Towns 273 

the besieging party brought up against the walls for 
an escalade, directed the sappers who undermined 
them, and, in fact, superintended the manufacture of 
all such offensive engines as were necessary in the 
conduct of a siege, a process which, before the 
invention of firearms, necessitated preparations as 
prolonged and tedious as they were complicated and 
uncertain. In short, the architect was the constructor 
of fortifications, the engigneur their assailant or de- 
fender. It was not until the time of Vauban that 
military engineers were called upon to exercise 
functions so much more extensive. At an earlier 


period there were, however, specialists in construction 
who undertook such works as the circumvallation 
of Aigues-Mortes, but their labours had little in 
common with those of modern engineers. 

Before the feudal period the fortifications of 
camps consisted either of earthworks, of walls built 
of mud and logs, or of palisades surrounded by 
ditches, in imitation of the Roman methods of 
castrametation. The enceintes of towns fortified by 
the Romans were walls defended by round or square 
towers. These walls were built double ; a space of 
several yards intervened, which was filled up with 
the earth dug from the moat or ditch, mixed with 



Gothic Architecture 

rubble. The mass was levelled at the top and 
paved to form what is technically known as a 
covered way, or terrace protected by an embattled 
wall rising from the outer curtain. 

That portion of the enceinte of Carcassonne which 
was built by the Visigoths in the sixth century is 
thus constructed on the Roman model. " The ground 
on which the town is built rises considerably above 



that beyond the walls, and is almost on a level with 
the rampart. The curtains 1 are of great thickness ; 
they are composed of two facings of dressed stones 
cut into small cubes, which alternate with courses of 
bricks ; the intervening space is filled not with earth, 
but with a concrete formed of rubble and lime." 2 
The flanking towers which rise considerably above 
the curtains were so disposed that it was possible to 

1 The wall space between the towers. 
2 Viollet-le-Duc, La Cite de Carcassonne. 

CircumvaUation of Towns 275 

isolate them from the walls by raising drawbridges. 
Thus each tower formed an independent stronghold 
against assailants. 

Fig. 1 6 5 shows a portion of the north - west 
ramparts of the city of Carcassonne, with the first 
round tower ; to the left of the drawing is the 
Romano - Visigothic tower, flanking right and left 
the curtains of the same period. 

In accordance with the Roman tradition the 
enceinte of a town, formed, as we have seen, of 
ramparts strengthened by towers, were further de- 
fended by a citadel or keep, of which we shall have 
more to say in the following chapter. This keep com- 
manded the whole place, which was usually situated 
on the slope of a hill above the bank of a river. 
The bridge which communicated with the opposite 
bank was fortified by a gate-house or tete de pont, to 
guard the passage. 

The circumvallation of towns often consisted of a 
double enclosure, divided by a moat. By the close 
of the twelfth century architects had caught the 
inspiration of the great military works of the 
Crusaders in the East, and military architecture had 
progressed on the same lines as religious and mon- 
astic architecture. 

The territories, conquered by the Crusaders in 
the course of establishing the Christian supremacy 
in the East, had been divided into feofs as early as 
the twelfth century. These soon boasted castles, 
churches, and monastic foundations, of the Cistercian 
and Premonstrant orders among others. 

According to G. Rey, the following abbeys and 
priories were built in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem 

276 Gothic Architecture 

at this period : -The monasteries of Mount Sion, 
Mount Olivet, Jehoshaphat, St. Habakkuk, and St. 
Samuel, etc., and in Galilee, those of Mount Tabor 
and Palmaree. The military organisation was 
regulated by the Assises de la haute Cour (Assizes of 
the Supreme Court), which determined the number 
of knights to be furnished by each feof for the 
defence of the kingdom, and in like manner, the 
number of men-at-arms required from each church 
and each community of citizens. . . . The middle of 
the twelfth century was the period at which the 
Christian colonies of the Holy Land were most 
flourishing. Undeterred by the wars of which Syria 
was the theatre, the Franks had promptly assimi- 
lated the Greek and Roman tradition as manifested 
in Byzantine types of military architecture. The 
double enclosure flanked by towers, one of the main 
features of Syrian fortresses built by the Crusaders, 
was borrowed from the Greeks. Many of their 
strongholds, notably Morgat, the so-called Krak of 
the knights, and Tortosa, were of colossal proportions. 
They may be divided into two classes. In the first, 
the buildings are of the Prankish type, and seem 
to be modelled on the French castles of the eleventh 
and twelfth centuries. The flanking towers are 
nearly always round ; they contain a defensive 
story, while their summits and those of the inter- 
vening curtains are crowned with battlements in the 
French fashion. Other features subsequently intro- 
duced were : the double enceinte, borrowed from the 
Byzantines, the inner line of which commanded the 
outer, .and was sufficiently near to allow its defenders 
to engage, should assailants have carried the first 

Circumv dilation of Towns 


barrier ; secondly, stone 
machicolations in place 
of the wooden hourds or 
timber scaffoldings which 
were retained in France 
till the close of the 
thirteenth century ; and 
finally, the talus, a device 
by which the thickness 
of the walls was tripled 
at the base, thus affording 
increased security against 
the arts of the sapper and 
the earthquake shocks so 
frequent in the East. 

The buildings of the 
second class belong to 
the school of the Knights 
Templars. Their charac- 
teristic features are the 
towers, invariably square 
or oblong in shape, and 
projecting but slightly 
from the curtains. The 
fortress of Kalaat-el-Hosn, 1 
or Krak of the knights, 
commanded the pass 
through which ran the 
roads from Horns and 
Hamah to Tripoli and 

1 P. tude snr les Monuments de 
I' Architecture Militaire des croises 
en Syne, by G. Key ; Paris, 1871. 

278 Gothic A rch itecture 

Tortosa, and was a military station of the first 
importance. Together with the castles of Akkar, 
Arcos, La Colee, Chastel-Blanc, Areynieh, Yammour, 
Tortosa, and Markab, and the various auxiliary 
towers and posts, it constituted a system of defence 
designed to protect Tripoli from the incursions of 
the Mahometans, who retained their hold on the 


greater part of Syria. . . . The Krak y which was 
built under the direction of the Knights Hospitallers, 
has a double enceinte^ separated by a wide ditch 
partly filled with water. The inner wall forms a 
reduct, and rising above the outer enclosure com- 
mands its defences. It also encompasses the various 
dependencies of the castle, the great hall, chapel, 
domestic buildings, and magazines. A long vaulted 

Circumvallation of Towns 


passage, easy of defence, was the only entrance to 
the place. To the north and west the outer line 
consisted of a curtain flanked by rounded turrets, 
and crowned by machicolations, which formed a 
continuous scaffolding of stone along the greater 
part of the enceinte. 

The action of the East upon the West was 


manifested in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries 
by the application to the fortification of Carcassonne 
and Aigues - Mortes of methods in use among the 
Crusaders in Syria. 

This oriental influence is apparent at Carcassonne 
in the double enceinte borrowed from Syrian fortresses. 

The city of Carcassonne stands upon a plateau 
commanding the valley of the Aude, the site of an 


Gothic A rch itecture 

ancient Roman castellum. In the sixth century it 
fell into the hands of the Visigoths, who fortified it. 
It increased considerably in extent during the tenth, 
eleventh, and twelfth centuries, but in the time of 
Simon de Montfort (1209) and of Raymon de 
Trancavel (1240) the enceinte was not nearly so 
important as it became under St. Louis. By the 
middle of the thirteenth century the king had begun 


the construction of defensive works on a vast scale, 
and built the outer enceinte, which still exists, as 
may be seen on the plan (Fig. 167) taken from 
Viollet-le-Duc's Cite de Carcassonne. 

The primary object of the enceinte was to secure 
the place against a sudden attack during the com- 
pletion or enlargement of its interior defences. The 
additions of St. Louis, which were carried on by 
Philip the Bold, rendered Carcassonne impregnable 

Circumvallation of Towns 


in the general estimation. " As a fact, it was never 
invested, and did not open its gates to Edward the 
Black Prince till 1355, when all Languedoc had 
submitted to him." J 

Oriental influences are equally evident at Aigues- 
Mortes. The Genoese Guglielmo Boccanera, who 
constructed the enceinte, was apparently familiar with 


the system of fortification adopted by the Crusaders 
in Syria. The machicolations which here make 
their first appearance in Languedoc (in the reign of 
Philip the Bold), proclaim the filiation of Aigues- 
Mortes to the Syrian fortresses. Italian influences 
are also perceptible in the square plan of the flanking 
towers. French architects had always preferred the 
round tower, as more solid in itself, and less open 

1 Viollet-le-Duc, La Cite de Carcassonne. 


Gothic Architecture 

to attack from sappers, who, in advancing against 
a building of this form, were fully exposed to the 
missiles of the defenders from the curtains adjoin- 
ing ; while, on the other hand, the angles of the 
square tower gave a certain protection to assailants 
advancing against its front. 

The ramparts of Avignon, which date from the 


fourteenth century, seem to have been constructed 
on Italian methods. The curtains are flanked by 
square towers, open towards the town, and sur^ 
mounted by embattled parapets corbelled out from 
the walls, and machicolated so as to command their 

In the thirteenth century walls and towers were 
provided with movable wooden scaffoldings, as 

Circumvallation of Towns 


shown at A in the figure. Spaces were left in the 
masonry of the walls for the insertion of wooden 
beams, which, projecting from the curtain, supported 
an overhanging gallery. This, being pierced with 
traps or apertures in the flooring, commanded the 
base of the wall, and was an important element in 
defensive operations. But as it was found that these 
timber galleries were 
easily set on fire by 
assailants, they were 
replaced in the 
fourteenth century 
by stone machicola- 
tions, as shown at B, 
consisting of corbels, 
supporting an em- 
battled parapet. 
Between the inner 
face of the parapet 
and the outer face 

of the curtain the 

supporting corbels 

alternated with 

openings for the 

defence of the base, as already described. This 

arrangement, among the earliest examples of which 

are the square towers of Avignon, was soon generally 

adopted by architects in the construction of city 


" The art of fortification, which had made great 
advances at the beginning of the thirteenth century, 
remained almost stationary to the end of it. During 
the Hundred Years' War, however, it received a fresh 


284 Gothic Architecture 

impetus. When order had been restored in the 
kingdom, Charles VII. set about the restoration or 
reconstruction of many fortresses recaptured from 
the English. In the defensive works of such towns 
and castles, and in various new undertakings of a 
like nature, we recognise the method and regularity 
proper to an art based on well-defined principles, 
and far advanced towards mastery." 1 

In the Abbey of Mont St. Michel the successive 
modifications applied to military enceintes from the 


thirteenth to the fifteenth century, are illustrated in 
the fullest and most interesting manner. 

Of the fourteenth century fortifications, which 
surrounded the original town at the summit of the 
rock, connecting the ramparts with the Merveille on 
the north, and the abbey buildings on the south, 
some fragments still remain. The tower on the 
north is intact. The walls are crowned with machi- 
colations, in accordance with the then novel system 
of massing the defences at the top of the ramparts. 
The gate of the enceinte was to the south-east, 

1 Viollet-le-Duc, Dictionnaire, vol. i. 

C^rc^imvallat^on of Towns 285 

judging from the miniatures in the livre cTheures of 
Pierre II., Duke of Brittany, which show the arrange- 
ment of the original enceinte at the close of the 
fourteenth century. 

The abbey was at this time governed by Pierre 
Le Roy, one of its ablest abbots and most famous 
constructors. He rebuilt the summit of the Tour 
des Corbins (inerveille]^ restored, and re-roofed the 
abbey buildings to the south of the church, which, 
begun by Richard Justin in 1260, were carried on 
at intervals by his successors till they were partially 
destroyed by the fire of 1374. He completed the 
eastern defences by the addition of the square tower 
at O on the plan (Fig. I 5 i), in which he built several 
rooms for the accommodation of his soldiers. The 
tower is known as the Tour Perrine, in memory of 
its author. We have seen that the abbots gradually 
became great feudal chieftains ; the Abbot of Mont 
St. Michel was further commandant of the place 
for the king ; and he was empowered to bestow 
feofs on the nobles of the province, who bound 
themselves in return to keep guard over the mount 
in certain contingencies, enumerated in the following 
rendering of a Latin text : * 

" The tenure of these vavassories was by faith 
and fealty, and their holders were bound to furnish 
relief and thirteen knights, each of whom was to 
come in person to guard the gate of the abbey when 
necessary that is to say, in time of war ; each to 
keep guard for the space of the ebb and flow of the 
sea that is to say, during the rising and falling of 

1 Ed. Corroyer, Description de VAbbaye du Mont St. Michel et de 
ses Abords. 

286 Gothic Architecture 

the tide ; and each to be provided with gambeson, 
casque, gauntlets, shield, lance, and all requisite arms ; 
and further to present themselves thus armed yearly 
at the feast of St. Michael in September." 

In the early years of the fifteenth century he 
built the gate-house and crenellated curtain which 
connects it with the Merveille, to the north of the 
guard -room, Bellechaise (see Fig. 163, beginning 
of this chapter). The gate-house was placed in front 
of the northern fagade of Bellechaise (D, Fig. 150); 
an open space between this and the south wall of 
the new structure formed a wide machicoulis for the 
protection of the north gate (that of Bellechaise}, 
which, by the erection of the new building, had been 
transformed into a second interior entrance. The 
gate-house or chatelet is a square structure, flanked 
at the angles of the north front by two turrets, 
corbelled out upon buttresses. In general appearance 
they resemble a pair of huge mortars standing on 
their breeches. Between the pedestals of these 
turrets was the doorway and the inclined vault over 
the staircase leading to the guard -room. This 
entrance was defended by a portcullis worked from 
within on the first story, and by three machicoulis 
at the top of the curtain, between the battlements of 
the turrets. For the further protection of the gate- 
house Pierre Le Roy built the barbican which covers 
it to the east and north, and also commands the 
great staircase (Grand Degre) on the north. He 
modified the ramparts by the addition of the tower 
known as the Tour Claudine at the north-east angle 
of the Merveille. In the lower story of this tower 
he constructed a guard-room, the postern of which 

Circumv dilation of Towns 


communicated with the Grand Degre, and by a series 
of ingenious and unique combinations was so con- 
trived as to command all the approaches. 1 

In 1411 the Abbot Robert Jolivet was nominated 
lord of the abbey by Pope John XXIII. After his 
election by the monks he was made captain of the 
garrison by the king, but continued to live in Paris. 
In 1416, however, he hastened to his abbey, which 
was threatened by the English, who had possessed 
themselves of Lower Normandy after the battle of 


Agincourt in 1415. Whilst the English were busy 
fortifying Tombelaine, Robert Jolivet completed his 
walls and certain towers round about the town, which 
still exist. To meet the expenses of his undertaking 
the abbot obtained a grant from the king of fifteen 
hundred livres from the revenues of the Viscounty of 
Avranches, besides a subsidy from the Master of the 
Mint at St. L6. 

At the time when Robert Jolivet was building 

1 Ed. Corroyer, Description de VAbbaye du Mont St. Michel, etc. ; 
Paris, 1877. 


Gothic Architecture 

Circumvallation of Towns 289 

the new ramparts, from about 1415 to 1420, the 
town had greatly increased towards the south, and 
even setting aside the dangerous proximity of the 
English at Tombelaine, some more extensive system 
of defence than that afforded by the fortifications of 
the fourteenth century was imperatively needed to 
secure the place against attack. Robert Jolivet 
incorporated his new walls on the east with those of 
the preceding century, which, following the escarp- 
ments of the cliff, descend to the beach, and are 
protected by the northern tower. These walls he 
flanked with an additional tower projecting con- 
siderably from the surface, which was destined to 
command the adjoining curtains and protect the 
main line of his defences. He then carried his walls 
round to the south of the rock and strengthened 
them by five other towers. The last of these, known 
as the Tour du Rot, forms the south-eastern projec- 
tion of the place, and commands the western gate of 
the town. 

The walls and their sloping bases are defended 
by stone machicolations above, the consoles of which 
support open crenellated parapets. Several of the 
towers were roofed, and afforded shelter for the 
defenders of the ramparts. After leaving the Tour 
du Roi the walls turn off at a right angle and 
unite themselves to the abrupt declivities of the rock 
by means of a series of steps and covered ways, 
commanded by a fortified guard-room. Even the 
inaccessible peaks of the rock itself are fortified and 
connected with the defences of the abbey on the 

At the beginning of the fifteenth century, and still 

290 Gothic Architecture 

more notably towards its close, firearms had been 
successfully used in various sieges, and had made 
such rapid progress that the whole system of attack 
and defence was transformed. Towers gave way to 
bastions, the terraces of which became batteries, 
while the battlements of the earlier mode were re- 
placed by epaulments. Machicolations which were 
now merely a traditional decoration at last dis- 
appeared altogether, and military science gradually 
took the place of architecture, for which there was 
henceforth little scope in this particular field. 



THE first French castles of the mediaeval period 
seem to have been built for the purpose of arrest- 
ing invasion and affording shelter to communities 
decimated by the raids of the Normans. They con- 
sisted of simple intrenchments more or less extensive. 
Surrounded by a fosse or ditch formed of earth- 
works, the scarp of which was defended by a palisade, 
they had much in common with the camps of the 
ancient Romans. In the centre of the enclosure 
rose the motte (mote or mound), a conical elevation, 
either natural to the ground, or artificially formed 
on the model of the Roman prcetorium. This was 
surmounted by a building, generally of wood, which 
served as a post of observation and a retreat less 
accessible than the enceinte itself. 

In these rudimentary dispositions we recognise 
the germ of those feudal keeps and castles which 
were such important features of mediaeval architec- 
ture, notably during the Gothic period. 

Defensive works of this nature sprang up at 
various points of the royal domain which were ex- 
posed to the incursions of the Scandinavian pirates ; 


Gothic Architecture 

but the temporary concessions of Charles the Bald 
were claimed as definitive by those to whom they 
had been made. " When, therefore, that feeble 
monarch proclaimed the heredity of the feofs at 
Quierzy-sur-Oise in 877, he did but sanction that 
which was already an accomplished fact. . . . When 
the feudal system was firmly established, the nobles 


turned their attention to the maintenance of their 
usurpations alike against the kings of France, 
strangers, and neighbours. To this end they care- 
fully chose the best strategic positions in their terri- 
tories, and fortified them in the most durable fashion 
at their command. The imposts they levied were 
considerable, and their serfs were subject to endless 
exactions." * Stone castles were accordingly built 

1 Anthyme St. Paul, Histoire JMomunentale de la France. 

Castles and Keeps, or Donjons 293 

which, in general arrangement, adhered to primitive 
models. In 980 Frotaire had raised no less than 
five around Perigueux, his episcopal town. 

In 991 Thibault File-Etoupe built a fortress on 
the hill of Montlhery, near the royal residences of 
Paris and Etampes, which was very formidable to 
the first five kings of the house of Capet. Later, 


when it became a royal possession, it was one of the 
chief bulwarks of the city. 

In the Middle Ages the castle bore the same 
relation to the fortified town as did the keep to the 
feudal castle, and the history of one is bound up in 
that of the other. 

In a fortified town the castle was the lodging of 
the leader and his soldiers. It was connected with 
the ramparts of the place, and had one or more 


Gothic Architecture 

special outlets ; it was further provided with defences 
on the side of the town itself, so that upon occasion 
it became an isolated stronghold. 

The Castle of Carcassonne is a famous example 
of such offensive and defensive fortification. It was 
built in the first years of the twelfth century, and is 
composed of various lodgings for the chief and his 


garrison, defended east and north, on the side 
towards the city, by towers and curtains (Fig. 175). 
At the south-west angle independent reducts and 
towers guard the courtyards and approaches. The 
west front overlooks the open country, and here was 
placed the gate, which was defended by a series of 
formidable devices so ingenious as to preclude all 
possibility of surprise. 

Castles and Keeps, or Donjons 295 

During the Romanesque and Gothic periods the 
castle was a miniature town, with its own fortified 
enceinte, composed of walls reinforced by towers 
which served as refuges at various points of the 
circumference, and formed so many reducts for the 
arrest of assailants. 

The keep was the citadel of this miniature town, 
the temporary lodging of the lord whose vassals 
lived in the internal offices, and whose soldiers occu- 
pied the gate-house buildings and the towers of the 
ramparts. The noble sought to give his special 
habitation the most formidable aspect possible, and 
thereby to strike terror to the beholder, a very neces- 
sary device in those days of conflict when the friend 
of night was often the implacable foe of morning. 
" In times of peace the keep was the receptacle for 
the treasure, arms, and archives of the family ; but 
the lord did not lodge there ; he only took up his 
quarters in the keep with his wife and children in 
time of war. As it was not possible for him to 
defend the place alone, he surrounded himself with 
a band of the most devoted of his followers who 
shared his dwelling. From thence he exercised a 
scrupulous surveillance over the garrison and its 
approaches, for the keep was always placed at the 
most vulnerable point of the fortress, and he and 
his bodyguard held the horde of vassals and retainers 
in due subservience ; as they were able to pass in 
and out at all hours by secret and well-guarded pass- 
ages, the garrison was kept in ignorance of the exact 
means of defence, the lord, as was natural, doing all 
in his power to make them appear formidable." 1 

1 Viollet-le-Duc, Dictionnaire, vol. v. 

296 Gothic Architecture 

Castles and keeps of stone were generally built 
upon the natural scarp of some spur commanding 
two valleys and near the banks of a river ; the 
primitive mounds of the feudal fortresses were 
abandoned ; as we have already remarked, these 
were in many cases artificial, and would have been 
quite inadequate to the support of the huge masses 
of masonry of the new architecture. 

" By the close of the tenth century and the open- 
ing years of the eleventh, Foulques Nerra was rais- 
ing castles throughout his own territories in Anjou, 
and on every available point of vantage he could 
wrest from his neighbour, the Count of Blois and 
Tours ; the latter built fortresses to resist the 
aggressor and complete the network of strongholds 
begun by his father, Thibault the Trickster, one of 
the most turbulent nobles of his day." 1 

The keep of Langeais, on a precipitous hill over- 
looking the Loire, was founded by Foulques Nerra 
at the close of the tenth century ; the walls, which 
are still standing on three sides, show traces of 
Gallo-Roman methods of construction ; the dressed 
stones are of small size, and brick and stone are 
used conjointly for the voussoirs of the window 

A large number of castles and keeps were built 
in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, among others 
those of Plessy, Grimoult, Le Pin, and La Pomme- 
raye, the last on a mound surrounded by deep 
moats which separate three lines of circumvallation 
from each other ; Beaugency - sur - Loire, the vast 
keep of which was four stories high ; and Loches, 

1 Anthyme St. Paul, Histoire Monumentah de la France. 

Castles and Keeps, or Donjons 297 

which is ascribed to Foulques Nerra, but which 
seems to belong rather to the twelfth century, at 
which period military architecture had made a great 
advance. The keep of Loches is perhaps the finest 
of all such structures in France ; in height it is 
nearly i oo feet ; the ramparts seem to date from 


the thirteenth century ; the form of the towers on 
plan is a pointed arch, a shape adopted as offering 
greater resistance at the part most frequently 
attacked by the sapper. 

At Falaise, where the castle like that of Dom- 
front is built on a rugged promontory, the ramparts 
are later than the keep, the architectural details of 


Goth ic A rch itectii re 

which point to the twelfth century. This hypothesis 
is supported by a passage in the Chronicle of Robert 
du Mont, quoted by M. de Caumont. In 1123 
Henry II. rebuilt the keep and ramparts of Arques, 
and carried out similar restorations at Gisors, 
Falaise, Argentan, Exmes, Domfront, Amboise, and 


Other keeps of equal interest in point of situa- 
tion, plan, or details of construction are : Ste. 
Suzanne, Nogent-le-Rotrou, Broue, L'Islot, Tonnay- 
Boutonne, Pons, Chamboy, Montbazon, Lavardin, 
Montrichard, and Huriet in the Bourbonnais. All 
these, in common with those first described, are 
square or rectangular on plan. From the end of 
the twelfth century onwards the cylindrical form 

Castles and Keeps, or Donjons 299 

predominates in the plan of keeps and towers. On 
the whole, it offered the best resistance to the 



mediaeval assailant. The convex surface was of 
equal strength all round, and as we have seen in 
the preceding chapter, the circular trace for towers 

300 Gothic Architecture 

gave the garrison the best chance of defending their 

bases from the curtain, and of opposing the work of 
sappers and miners. 

The great advance made in architecture by the 
general adoption of an expedient so simple and 

Castles and Keeps , or Donjons 301 

easy of execution as the vault on intersecting arches 
manifested itself very strongly in military structures. 
The heavy wooden floors of the earlier keeps, which 
were so apt to catch fire, were replaced by less 
ponderous vaults, binding the circular walls firmly 
together, and forming a flooring for the various stories 
less unsteady and infinitely more durable than the 
huge beams and joists of earlier days. 

A further improvement was the pointed roof, 
round on plan, now generally adopted as better 
calculated to withstand projectiles or combustibles 
which shattered the angles of the roof in the old 
square towers, and set fire to the timbers. 

The form of keeps, however, varied considerably 
throughout the twelfth century. At Houdan the 
keep is a great tower strengthened by four turrets ; at 
.ttampes it is composed of four clustered towers, 
forming a quatrefoil on plan ; the vaulted stories 
are marked by many curious features, among others 
a deep well, the opening of which is in the second floor. 
Some historians date this building from the eleventh 
century ; there are indications, however, in the details 
ot the architecture and sculptures, which point to the 
early part of the reign of Philip Augustus. 

The keep of Provins, which belongs to the twelfth 
century, has certain very original features. It rises 
from a solid mound of masonry, and has a circular 
enceinte. The base of the keep itself is square, and 
is flanked at each angle by a turret. An octagonal 
tower surmounts the square base, and is connected 
with the flanking turrets by flying buttresses. The 
keep of Gisors is also octagonal in form, one of its 
octagons being at a tangent to the circular enceinte 

3 02 

Goth ic A rch itectu re 

which crowns the feudal motte or mound. It was 
built in the twelfth century, and was considerably 
augmented by the line of walls and square towers 
which Philip Augustus drew round the mound. 

The Chateau Gaillard, built at the close of the 
twelfth century on an eminence commanding the 
Seine at Les Andelys, has several peculiarities of 
arrangement. The round keep is first enclosed 'by 
a circular enceinte, or rather by a square, the angles 
of which have been rounded. This in its turn is 


surrounded by an elliptic enclosure connected with 
the defences of the castle, and consisting of a series 
of segmental towers united by very narrow curtains. 
In this massive structure the art of the architect 
manifests itself only in the robust solidity of the 
masonry. It is the keep in its purely military 
character. No trace of decoration mitigates its 

Philip Augustus, having possessed himself of the 
Chateau Gaillard, fortified Gisors on the same 
formidable scale, and proceeded to build the castle 
of Dourdan as well as his own palace fortress of the 

Castles and Keeps, or Donjons 33 

Louvre, in Paris. Upon the death of the king, 
Enguerrand III. began to build a fortress at Coucy, 
which he completed in less than ten years (1223- 

z - 


1230). Its grandiose proportions and formidable 
system of defence surpassed everything that had gone 
before. Coucy was, in fact, the architectural manifesta- 
tion of that haughty ambition to which Enguerrand 

Gothic Architecture 

is said to have given free expression during the 
minority of his sovereign. 

Next in importance to the castles and keeps of 
the thirteenth century, already enumerated, are the 
following : The White Tower of Issoudun ; the 
Tower of Blandy ; the octagonal keep of Chatillon-sur- 
Loing, Semur ; the royal fortresses of Angers, built 
by St. Louis ; Montargis, Boulogne, Chinon, and 
Saumur ; the Tour Constance or keep of Aigues- 
Mortes, ascribed to St. Louis ; the castle of Najac, 

. ^ 


built by his brother, Alphonse of Poitiers ; the 
castles of Bourbon 1'Archambault and Chalusset, 
and the castle of Clisson, rebuilt or begun by 
Olivier I., Lord of Clisson, after his return from the 
Holy Land, etc. 

In the fourteenth century military architecture 
developed chiefly on reconstructive lines. Ancient 
fortresses were reorganised in accordance with the 
new methods of attack and (consequently) of defence, 
and the weak points brought to light by recent 
sieges were dealt with. The same process was 

Castles and Keeps, or Donjons 305 

applied to the construction of towers which had 
hitherto been furnished with several rows of loop- 
holes, an excellent expedient for the defence of 


curtains and approaches, but subject to this draw- 
back, that it directed attention to the most vulner- 
able points. The first effect of the use of cannon 
in warfare was to increase the thickness, of the 
walls ; subsequently, such structural modifications were 


306 Gothic Architecture 

adopted as were required by the novel method of 
massing all the defences at the summit of machi- 
colated walls. The principal castles of this period 
were Vincennes, near Paris, built by Philip of Valois 
and Charles V., and the vast fortified palace at 
Avignon, constructed by the Popes Benedict XII., 
Clement VI., Innocent VI., and Urban V., of which 
we shall have more to say in Part IV. Gaston 
Phcebus, Count of Foix and Beam, built square 
keeps in the Bastide of Beam, at Montaner, and at 
Mauvezin, besides circular keeps at Lourdes and at 

Among keeps and castles completed or entirely 
built in the fourteenth century, Anthyme St. Paul 
enumerates those of Roquetaillade, Bourdeilles, 
Polignac, Briquebec, Hardelot, Rambures, Lavardin 
(the foundations of which were laid in the twelfth 
century), Montrond, Turenne, Billy, Murat, and 
Herisson, the curious keep of Montbard, the keeps 
of Romefort, Pouzauges, Noirmoutier, and many 

At the end of the fourteenth and beginning of the 
fifteenth century Louis of Orleans, son of Charles 
V., took advantage of the madness of his brother 
Charles VI. to fortify various positions on which he 
relied for the furtherance of his ambitious schemes. 
In 1393 and the years immediately following he 
acquired various estates in Valois : Montepilloy, 
Pierrefonds, and La Ferte-Milon, the castle of which 
he rebuilt entirely. He also bought the domain of 
Coucy in 1400, after the death of the last male 
descendant of Enguerrand III. 

Coucy, Pierrefonds, and La Ferte-Milon have 

Castles and Keeps, or Donjons 307 

been so exhaustively described in special works, 
notably those of Viollet-le-Duc, that we need not 
reproduce them here. We have cited them as 
characteristic types of those colossal fortresses and 
keeps, admirable alike in grandiose proportion and 
refinement of detail which are the supreme expression 
of feudal power. 


Several other castles were built in Albigeois, 
Auvergne, Limousin, Guyenne, La Vendee, and 
Provence, notably at Tarascon. The keeps of 
Treves in Anjou also date from this period. 

Important castles sprang up all over Brittany 
in the fifteenth century. Such were Combourg, 
Fougeres, Montauban, St. Malo, Vitre, Elven, 
Sucinio, Dinan, Tonquedec, etc. 

308 Gothic Architecture 

Many of these buildings which date from the 
close of the century were remarkable for their 
ingenuity of arrangement and richness of decoration. 
But though worthy of all attention from the artistic 
point of view, they do not come within the scope of 
our present study that of military architecture in 
the Gothic period. 



THOUGH confining ourselves to a brief historical 
abstract of the so-called Gothic period in architec- 
ture, without reference to Roman examples, we have 
said enough in the foregoing studies on castles and 
keeps, and the circumvallation of towns, to give 
some idea of the importance attached by architects 
to the gates which secured the enceintes, and the 
bridges which afforded an approach. 

Gates. Following the example of those Prankish 
architects whose works in Syria after the first Crusade 
seem to have exercised such far-reaching influence, 
French builders of the reigns of Philip Augustus 
and St. Louis reduced the entrances of fortresses 
and fortified enceintes to the smallest number 
practicable. Their construction was based upon a 
system calculated to repulse any ordinary attempt 
to carry the place by direct attack ; as a rule, 
fortresses were taken rather by ruse, surprise, or 
treason than by regular siege. 

During the twelfth, and more especially the 
thirteenth century, the gates were the points most 
strongly fortified. They were approached over a 

3 io 

Gothic Architecture 

bridge, by raising a movable portion of which, how- 
ever, entrance might be barred on the very threshold. 
The narrow gateway passage was defended by two 
projecting towers pierced with loopholes, and con- 
nected by a curtain. The whole structure formed a 


fortified gate-house, known as a chatelet^ which had 
to be carried before an assailant could penetrate to 
the fortress beyond. The passage was further de- 
fended by a single or double portcullis, a grated 
timber framework like a harrow, cased with iron, the 
uprights of which were spiked at the bottom. The 
passage was also defended by machicolations or 

Gates and Bridges 311 

holes in the roof, through which the garrison could 
hurl down missiles on the heads of their enemies, 
should the latter have forced the gate. 

The castle-gate of Carcassonne which was built 
about 1 1 20 still exists, and is a good example of 
such arrangements. 

The minute precautions adopted by architects 
to guard against surprise are very manifest in this 
example. A sudden attempt was often successful, 
especially if favoured by traitors among the defenders 

The difficulties of passage were increased by the 
multiplication of portcullises, the windlasses of which 
were worked from different stories of the tower, so 
as to prevent collusion between different parties of 
the garrison, which was often composed largely of 
mercenaries. In the gate-house of Carcassonne the 
first portcullis was raised or lowered by means of 
chains and counter-weights worked from a windlass 
on the second floor ; the second portcullis was 
worked in like manner from the first floor, in a 
place entirely cut off from communication with that 
above, to which access could only be obtained by a 
wooden staircase in the castle courtyard. 

In the thirteenth century military architects 
further provided against surprises by defensive out- 
works. The gate of Laon, at Coucy, so admirably 
described by Viollet-le-Duc, is a famous example. 
These outworks, which were called barbicans, were 
designed to protect the great gate and its approaches. 

Around the walls of the city of Carcassonne a 
second line of ramparts had been drawn by St. 
Louis, in which only a single opening gave access to 


Gothic Architecture 

the lists (Fig. 187) that is to say, the space between 
the inner and outer enclosures. He afterwards 
built a huge tower, known as the Barbican, to the 
west of the castle, with which it was connected by 

^^^r--^.^~~--^ -=*- 


crenellated walls, and by inner cross-walls, so arranged 
in a kind of echelon that the open spaces on one 
side were masked by the projections on the other 
(see plan, Fig. 167). The tower was destined 
to cover sorties from the garrison, and to keep 
open communication by the bridge across the 

Gates and Bridges 313 

Aude. It was rather an outwork than a barbican 
such as Philip the Bold built before the Porte 
Narbonaise, on the east of the city, towards the 
close of the thirteenth century. 

The Porte Narbonaise bears a general resemblance 
to the main gate of the castle, subject, however, to 
the great advance made in military architecture in the 
course of a century. The gateway towers are pro- 


vided with spurs, an invention directed against the 
attack of miners, which had the further advantage of 
interfering with the action of a battering-ram, by 
exposing those who worked it to missiles from the 
adjacent parts of the curtain. The gate opened 
immediately upon the lists ; it was defended by the 
crenellated semi-circular barbican, which was united 
on either side to the embattled parapet of the lists. 
Access to the barbican was obtained only by a 
narrow passage preceded by a bridge, the latter 

314 Gothic Architecture 

easily defended by a redan which adjoined the 
postern of the barbican. 

The gate itself was provided with two portcullises 
like those of the castle gate ; behind the first were 
massive folding-doors, and over it a wide machicolation. 

The constructive methods employed in the build- 
ing of fortified gates were modified as military 
architecture progressed on lines already considered 


by us in the first chapter of this section, when deal- 
ing with defensive methods generally, which, in the 
fourteenth century, seem to have been in advance of 
those of attack. A steady improvement in details 
went on until the invention of gunpowder came in 
to profoundly modify the conditions alike of defence 
and assault. 

The gateways of fortified enceintes were modified 
in the fourteenth century not only by alterations in 

Gates and Bridges 


the plan of towers, the substitution of stone machi- 
colations for the wooden hourds or scaffoldings of 
parapets, the addition of portcullises, folding -doors, 
and the machicoulis of the vaulted passage, but 
further by the in- 
vention of the draw- 
bridge. A draw- 
bridge, it may be 
hardly necessary to 
say, consisted of 
a wooden platform 
suspended by chains 
to cross-beams 
poised on uprights 
on the principle of 
a see -saw ; when 
lowered, the bridge 
afforded a passage 
across the moat. 
It was raised by 
depressing the inner 
ends of the lever- 
beams which 
pivoted upon a ful- 

crum, and thus 
brought the plat- 
form up vertically 
against the front 

of the building, where it formed an outer door which 
an attacking party had either to batter in or to 
bring down by cutting the chains. 

It will be readily perceived that such a bridge 
was infinitely more effectual and more to be depended 


3i 6 Gothic Architecture 

upon than the portable bridge mentioned in our 
description of the castle gate of Carcassonne. The 
latter had to be raised piece by piece, a prolonged 
operation impossible of execution in case of a sudden 

Aigues-Mortes seems to have been one of the 
first fortresses to which the new methods were applied. 
The gates east, west, and south are constructed on 
the twelfth-century system, as exemplified at Car- 
cassonne. But the northern gate, known as the 
Porte de la Gardette, which was either made or 
altered in the fourteenth century, still shows the 
grooves for the beams of the drawbridge, and the 
pointed arch of the doorway is enframed by a square 
rebate destined for the platform when raised. 

The use of drawbridges became very general in 
the fourteenth century, and gave rise to various 
ingenious combinations. The gate at Dinan, known 
as the Porte de Jerzual^ which probably dates from 
the close of the century, is a curious example. It 
is not placed between two towers in the manner then 
usual, but is pierced through the actual face of a 
tower. In this case, the inner prolongation of the 
lever -beams formed a solid panel like the platform 
of the bridge itself. It was worked through a hole 
in the roof of the entrance archway, being raised 
with the help of a chain, and falling through its 
own preponderant weight. The horizontal pivot on 
which it turned rested on the brackets shown in 
Fig. 1 90 ; the external sections of the lever-beams 
sank in the usual manner into the vertical grooves 
above the arch, and when the bridge was up, the 
solid panel joining the inner ends of the levers 

Gates and Bridges 


doubled the protection it gave. In case of alarm, 
the chain had simply to be let go, and the panel 
falling by its own weight, the bridge rose, and the 
barricade was complete. 


By the fifteenth century drawbridges were in 
universal use ; an interesting development was the 
result. This was the introduction of a smaller gate 
or postern in the curtain between the towers, by the 
side of the great gateway. Each of the two 
apertures was furnished with its own drawbridge. 

Gothic Architecture 

That of the centre, which was reserved for horsemen 
and vehicles, was worked by two beams or arms, as 
we have seen, while the smaller footbridge of the 
postern was raised by means of a single beam, the 
chain of which was attached to a forked upright. 


The castle of Vitre, which was built, or at least 
completed at the close of the fourteenth or beginning 
of the fifteenth century, illustrates the system in the 
gateway of its chdtelet. 

The gate-house, known as the Porte St. Michel, 
at Guerande, which was built together with the 
enceinte by John V., Duke of Brittany, in 1431, still 

Gates and Bridges 319 

preserves the lateral grooves which indicate the shape 
and arrangement of the postern drawbridge. 

When raised, the two drawbridges closed the 
apertures of gateway and postern, while the open 
gulf of the great ditch, either empty, or full of water, 
cut off the approach to the entrance. 

The Abbey of Mont St. Michel, which we have 
already studied under various aspects, has further 
information to give us with regard to the construc- 
tion of fortified gateways. In accordance with con- 
temporary usage, the Abbot Pierre Le Roy built a 
gate -house or bastille (Fig. 163), the entrance of 
which was guarded by a portcullis and a w T ide 
machicoulis ; he masked this gate-house by a barbican, 
which was connected north and south with the great 
stairway leading to the abbey. The northern stair- 
case is rendered specially interesting by the ingenious 
arrangement of its gates, which opened within the 
barbican. The apertures were filled by a panel 
which worked horizontally, on a system necessitated 
by the exceptional situation of the abbey, where the 
military, as well as the domestic buildings, were 
superposed, communicating with each other only by 
an elaborate series of staircases and inclines. The 
doors pivoted upon horizontal axes. Resting upon 
salient jambs in the embrasures of the doorways, 
they opened in a direction parallel with the slope of 
the steps, and could be shut at the least alarm, being 
carried into place by their own weight. They were 
kept fastened by lateral bolts, the slots of which still 
exist in the jambs. 1 

1 Ed. Corroyer, Description de VAbbaye du Mont St. Michel et de 
ses Abords ; Paris, 1877. 


Gothic Architecture 

The main gate of the ramparts, which was built 
between 1415 and 1420, is to the west of the place, 


in the curtain flanked by the tower known as the 
Tour du Roi. This gate and the lateral postern 

Gates and Bridges 321 

gave access to the town, their drawbridges forming 
a passage across the moat when lowered, and when 
raised, an initial barrier to assailants. Above the 
gates was the warder's lodging, beneath which the 
vaulted passage and the postern communicated 
directly with an outer guard-room in the ground- 
floor of the Tour du Rot. In addition to the first 
barrier, formed by the raised platform of the draw- 
bridge, the main entrance was secured by double 
doors, and by an iron portcullis, which still remains 
in its lateral grooves. The great arch is crowned 
by a tympanum, on which the united arms of the 
king, the abbey, and the town were carved. 

The works designed for the defence of rivers 
flowing through fortified towns, or of the inlets of 
harbours, are closely allied to the military archi- 
tecture of gates. At Troyes the river arches in the 
town ramparts were guarded by gratings or port- 
cullises of iron. At Paris the passage of the Seine 
was barred by chains stretched across the river from 
wall to wall, and upheld in the middle of the stream 
by piles or firmly anchored boats. At Angers the 
walls of the town abutted on two towers known as 
the Haute Chaine and the Basse Chaine (the Higher 
and Lower Chains), containing windlasses for the 
chains, which at night were stretched across the 
Maine at its passage through the enceinte. 

Seaports were defended at the mouth by towers 
on either shore, between which chains, worked from 
within, could be stretched to bar the passage. The 
harbour of La Rochelle is thus protected. According 
to some archaeologists of authority, the tower known as 
the Tour de la Chaine (to the left of the drawing) is 


3 22 


older than that of St. Nicholas (on the right), which is 
supposed by them to have been built in the sixteenth 
century on the foundations of an earlier tower con- 
temporary with that on the other side of the Channel. 
The piles upon which these towers stand seem to 
have given way in part, and to have caused a per- 
ceptible inclination of the Tower of St. Nicholas. 

The suggestion made in a very fanciful modern 
design, that the two towers were once united by a 


great arch, is wholly without foundation. Such a 
useless structure would have entailed defensive works 
equally useless, seeing that a chain stretched from 
tower to tower at high tide at low tide the harbour 
was inaccessible would have been perfectly effectual 
against any vessels of that period attempting to 
force a passage. 

Bridges. As is the case with all other archi- 
tectural buildings, the origin of bridges dates back to 
the Romans, by whom they were often decorated 
with triumphal arches. The bridge of St. Chamas 

Gates and Bridges 


in Provence, known as the Pont Flavien (Flavian 
Bridge), is an example which seems to date from the 
first centuries of the Christian era. 

The triumphal arches were in later times replaced 
by fortifications ; they became tctes de pont, bastilles, 
or crenellated gate-houses, the function of which was 
not, like that of the arches, the decoration of the 
structure or the glorification of its founder, but the 
defence of the passage across the river, and the 



protection of the fortress with which it com- 

Among the bridges constructed by mediaeval 
architects, that of St. Benezet, the Bridge of Avignon, 
seems to be the most ancient. This bridge, which 
was begun about 1180, and completed some ten 
years later, is equally remarkable for its architectural 
details, and the structural problems solved by its 
builders. It crosses, or rather used to cross, the 
Rhone for though the arm towards the Rocher des 
Doins is the narrower, it is the deeper on nineteen 
arches, extending from the foot of the Doms, on the 

324 Gothic Architecture 

Avignonese bank, to the Tower of Villeneuve, on the 
right bank, after a slight deflection southward. 

The gate-house on the left bank, some fragments 
of which still remain, is said to have been built by 
the Popes in the fourteenth century, for the purpose 
of levying tolls, a perquisite shared by them with the 
King of France. 

The Bridge of Avignon seems to have been one 
of the first constructed by the fraternity of the 
Hospitallers pontifs, which was founded in the twelfth 
century for the double object of building bridges and 
succouring travellers. The head of the order at the 
time of the building of the Rhone bridge was St. 
Benezet. It must have numbered architects of 
ability among its members, for the construction of 
the Bridge of Avignon is very remarkable. Each of 
the elliptical arches is composed of four independent 
arches in simple juxtaposition one with another. 
This device ensures elasticity, and as a consequence 
stability. The solidarity of the whole is rendered 
complete by the masonry of the spandrils, which 
recall the architectural portions of the aqueduct, 
known as the Pont du Gard ; its width is about 1 6 
feet. The arches spring from piers furnished on 
either face with acute spurs designed to break the 
force of the stream and the impact of floating ice 
in the winter. 

The spandril above each pier is pierced with a 
round arch, to give free passage to the water during 
those floods which at times completely submerge 
the piers. 

The bridge in its present ruined condition has 
only four arches. On the pier nearest to the left 

Gates and Bridges 325 

bank the ancient chapel, dedicated to St. Nicholas, 
is still standing. Access to it is obtained by means 
of a flight of corbelled steps rising from the founda- 
tion to the entrance, and by an overhanging landing- 
stage, resting at one end against the pier, at the 
other against the flank of the arch. 

The old bridge at Carcassonne seems to be con- 
temporary with that of Avignon, but its arches are 


semicircular, their keystones are bound into the 
intrados, and their piers are spurred to the level of 
the platform, where they form recesses or refuges, 
which the narrowness of the bridge rendered very 

Among bridges of the thirteenth century we 
may mention that at Beziers, where the arches, 
both pointed and semicircular, resemble those of 
Carcassonne in construction ; but here the piers 
only rise above the summers of the arches by the 
height of two or three courses, and their spandrils 


Gothic Architecture 

are pierced to give free passage to the current during 

The bridge which spanned the Rhone at St. 
Savournin du Port, known as the Pont St. Esprit, 
was the work of a Clunisian abbot about 1265. It 
resembled the Bridge of Avignon in the^construction 
of the piers with their pierced spandrils ; the arches, 
however, were semicircular. The platform, which 
is some 16 feet across, was barred at either end 
by toll-gates ; that nearest to the little town was 
connected with the tcte de pont, which, in after times, 


was incorporated with the fortress commanding the 
course of the Rhone above the bridge. 

The question of tolls was an important one in 
those days, and gave rise to frequent disputes. The 
towers and gate-houses of bridges were toll-bars as 
well as defensive outworks. 

The bridge at Montauban, known as the Pont des 
Consuls, which was begun at the close of the thirteenth 
century, remained unfinished till the beginning of 
the fourteenth, when Philip the Fair gave such help 
as was needed for its completion, on condition that 
he should be allowed to raise three towers on the 
bridge, with a view to the appropriation of the tolls. 

Gates and Bridges 


The Bridge of Montauban is built entirely of 
brick. It consists of seven pointed arches, resting 
on spurred piers, which are pierced with arches, also 
pointed, and rising to the same height as the main 
arches, to provide for the frequent floods of the 

The Bridge of Cahors is one of the most beauti- 
ful of fourteenth - century examples. It is still of 


great interest in spite of the various restorations it 
has undergone, chiefly of late years. 

This bridge, which is known as the Pont de 
Valentre^&s begun in 1308 by Raymond Panchelli, 
Bishop of Cahors from 1300-1312, and cannot 
have been finished before 1355. It consists of six 
slightly pointed arches ; the piers, which rise to the 
level of the parapet, forming lateral refuges, are 
triangular above bridge and square below. At each 
end the bridge was commanded by a crenellated 

328 Gothic Architecture 

structure, forming a gate-house or tcte de pent on 


cither bank. In the middle rose a lofty tower with 

Gates and Bridges 329 

gates, by means of which passage might be barred 
and assailants checked in the event of a surprise of 
either gate-house. 

The Bridge of Orthez has strong affinities with 
that of Cahors. It must date from about the same 
period, and there is every reason to suppose it was 
defended, not only by the central tower, but by 
tetes de pont, one of which at least must have been 
destroyed to make way for the railroad from Bayonne 
to Pau. 

Bridges were of great importance in the Middle 
Ages, both as public highways and military outworks. 
At certain points, notably at the confluence of two 
rivers, they were strongly reinforced by very con- 
siderable defences, as at Sens, Montereau, etc. 

At Paris, Orleans, Rouen, Nantes, and a large 
number of other towns traversed by rivers, bridges 
were not only important as military defences, but of 
great interest as architecture. 

Mont St. Michel shall furnish us with our last 
example, a bridge of the fifteenth century. Though 
it spans no stream, it is none the less remarkable. 
In the details of this bridge its embattled platform 
uniting the lower church to the abbey, its machi- 
colated parapet guarding the inner passages we re- 
cognise an art consummate as that which stirs our 
enthusiasm in the vast proportions and perfect 
execution of the splendid choir, the whole proclaim- 
ing the versatile genius of those great builders who 
welded into one noble monument a triad of master- 
pieces religious, monastic, and military. 





CIVIL architecture could boast no special charac- 
teristics before the close of the thirteenth century. 
Its earlier buildings bore the impress of religious 
and monastic types, as was natural at a period when 
architecture was practised almost exclusively by 
monks and by the lay disciples trained in their 

It was not until the following century that 
domestic architecture threw off the trammels of 
religious tradition, and took on the character appro- 
priate to its various functions. Artists began to 
seek decorative motives in the scenes and objects 
of daily life, no longer borrowing exclusively from 
sacred themes, and convention in form and detail 
was abandoned in some degree for the study of 

Barns. Throughout the Romanesque and Gothic 
periods, barns, hospitals, and houses were constructed 
in the prevailing style. We propose, of course, to 
deal only with buildings possessing real architectural 


Gothic Architecture 

The barns or granaries of mediaeval times were 
rural dependencies of the abbeys, but were built 


outside the enclosure of the monastery proper, and 
formed part of the priory or farm. The entrance of 
the barn was a large door, opening upon the yard 

Barns, Hospitals, Dwelling-houses^ etc. 335 

in the centre of the front gable end ; access was 
also obtained by means of smaller doors in the side 
walls, and often a postern was constructed beside 
the main entrance for ordinary use. The great 
central doors were then only thrown open for the 


passage of carts, which, entering at the front, passed 
out through a similar door in the opposite gable 
end, as at the barn of Perrieres, which, though 
situated in Normandy, was a dependency of the 
Abbey of Marmoutier, near Tours. 

Such barns were generally large three -aisled 


Gothic Architecture 

buildings, the central aisle divided from those on either 
side by an arcade, or pillars of wood or stone, which 
supported the pointed timber roof covering the whole. 


In some of these barns it was the practice to 
pile wheat, barley, or rye in the centre and in one of 
the side aisles ; in others the central aisle was kept 

free for passage, and 
the grain was stored 
in the sides. 

The facades differ 
only in unimportant 
details. They con- 
sist of vast gable 
ends, following the 
lines of the roof, 
and strengthened 
by pilasters. A large doorway, with a small postern to 
the side of it, occupies the centre of the base, and 
the apex is pierced with narrow openings to light, 
or rather to ventilate, the interior. 


Barns, Hospitals, Dwelling-houses, etc. 337 

Tithe-barns were very generally constructed on 
this plan. When large and important they had 
two stories, as at Provins. 

These were not as a rule vaulted, but the 
granaries, or greniers d'abondance, were often built 
with three stories, that of the ground-floor, and even 


the one above it, being vaulted. The granary of 
the Abbey of Vauclair, in the department of Aisne, 
built towards the close of the twelfth century, is a 
very interesting example of such structures. 

Some idea of the importance of religious estab- 
lishments at this period may be gathered from the 
foregoing details. The great abbeys were miniature 
towns, and their dependencies, the priories, con- 



Gothic Architecture 

sisted of vast farms, round which large villages 

soon grew up. The cul- 
tivators of these great 
holdings combined agri- 
cultural labours with their 
religious exercises, and 
the priors in especial 
were not only priests, but 
perhaps even in a greater 
degree stewards or bailiffs, 
whose duty it was to collect 
payments in kind, such as 
tithes or other revenues, 
to store these, together 
with the crops of their 
own raising, and finally to 
administer the wealth of 
every description lands, 
woods, rivers, and ponds 
belonging to the abbey. 

Hospitals. A large 
number of charitable in- 
stitutions, called in the 
Middle Ages maisons 
dieu, hotels dieu, hos- 
pices, hospitals, and lazar- 
houses, were founded in 
the eleventh century, and 
greatly developed in the 
twelfth and thirteenth. 

A hospital was attached 

to most of the large abbeys or their dependencies. The 
cities also owned hospitals founded or served by monks. 

Barns, Hospitals, Dwelling-hoiises, etc. 339 

Lazar-houses had multiplied throughout Western 
Europe by the end of the twelfth century, from 
Denmark to Spain, from England to Bohemia and 
Hungary ; but these buildings gave little scope to 
the architect. They consisted merely of an enclos- 
ure surrounding a few isolated cells, and a chapel, 


attached to which were the lodgings of the monks 
who tended the lepers. 

But many of the hospices or hospitals built 
from the end of the twelfth to the fourteenth century 
are magnificent buildings, in general arrangement 
much resembling the great halls of the abbeys. 

It must be borne in mind that hospitality in the 
Middle Ages was obligatory; each monastery, there- 
fore, had its eleemosynary organisation, which included 


Gothic Architecture 

special buildings for the accommodation of monks 

whose business it was to tend the sick and to distri- 
bute alms to them and other travellers and pilgrims. 

Barns, Hospitals, Dwelling-houses, etc. 341 

We learn from Viollet-le-Duc that so early as 
the Carlovingian period taxes were levied in aid 
of the poor, the sick, and pilgrims. Charlemagne 
had enjoined hospitality in his ordinances and 


capitularies, and it was forbidden to refuse shelter, 
fire, and water to any suppliant. 

The communes vied with kings, nobles, abbots, 
and citizens in the discharge of such duties. 
Hospices and hospitals were founded on every hand, 
either in deserted buildings, or in specially con- 
structed edifices. 

342 Gothic Architecture 

Refuges were also built on roads much frequented 
by pilgrims to shelter belated travellers, and 
hospices were constructed outside the walls and 
close to the city gates. 

Pilgrimages were much in vogue in the Middle 
Ages, especially throughout the thirteenth and four- 
teenth centuries. The sanctuaries of St. Michael 
in Normandy, and of St. James of Compostella 
in Spain, were the most frequented. At the begin- 
ning of the thirteenth century a hospice was founded 
outside Paris, near the Porte St. Denis, which was 
dedicated to St. James. This hospice, with its 
chapel, was served by the confraternity of St. 
Jacques aux Pelerins (St. James of Pilgrims), and 
offered gratuitous shelter each night to pilgrims 
bound for Paris. Its buildings covered two acres ; 
they included a great hall of stone, vaulted on 
intersecting arches, and measuring some 132 feet by 
36, for the accommodation of the sick. 

In a file of accounts of the fifteenth century, 
concluding with an appeal for funds, it is stated that, 
for the convenience of pilgrims y a lieu pour ce faire 
XVIIJ Hz qui depuis le premier jour d'aoust MCCCLX VIIJ 
jusques au jour de Mons. S. Jacques et Christofle 
ensuivant on estes loges et heberges en rJiospital de 
ceans xv m vi c iui xx x pelerins qui aloient et venoient 
au Mont Saint Michel et austres pelerins. Et encore 
sont loges continuellement chascune nuict de XXXVI a 
XL povres pelerins et austres povres, pourquoy le povre 
Jiospital est moult charge et en grant de liz, 
de couvertures et de draps. 1 

1 " Eighteen beds have been in use, and from the first day of August 
1368 to the feast of SS. James and Christopher following (July 25 ? 

Barns, Hospitals, Dwelling- houses, etc. 343 

In the first years of the fourteenth century several 
hundreds of hotels dieu, hospitals, and lazar-houses 
received help from the King of France. St. Louis 
founded the Hospice des Quinze- Vingts for the blind, 
and in many towns hospitals were erected for the 
insane, the old, and the infirm, in addition to the 
usual lazar-houses. Special hospitals had already 
been established for women in labour, and a chapel 
was founded for their 
benefit in the crypt 
of the Ste. Chapelle 
of Paris, dedicated 
to Our Lady of 
Travail, of Tombe- 
laine, in Normandy. 1 

Several hospitals 
of the Gothic period 
still exist. That of 
St. John at Angers 
is one of the most 
remarkable. Itcom- 
prises a great hall, 
divided into three 
aisles, and vaulted on intersecting arches, and a 
chapel dating from the close of the twelfth or begin- 
ning of the thirteenth century. The fine barn at 

1369) this hospital has lodged and sheltered 16,690 pilgrims journeying 
to or from St. Michael's Mount, besides others. And it has further 
given shelter each night to some thirty-six to forty poor pilgrims and 
other needy persons, whereby the poor hospital is heavily burdened 
and in sore straits for lack of beds, sheets, and blankets." Ed. 
Corroyer, Description de FAbbaye du Mont St. Michel et de ses Abords ; 
Paris, 1877. 
1 Idem. 




344 Gothic Architecture 

Angers is of the same period ; the plan and details 
of construction are very curious, and resemble those 
of the barns and granaries already described. 

The Hotel Dieu of Chartres dates from about the 
same period. 

The hospital of Ourscamps, near Noyon, is very 
similar as to the scheme of construction which seems 
to have been one generally adopted by the religious 
architects of the twelfth, and more notably of the 
thirteenth century. ' The grandiose proportions of 
the vast building recall the great vaulted halls of 
contemporary abbeys, such as those of St. Jean 
des Vignes at Soissons, and of the merveille at Mont 
St. Michel. Certain individual features characterise 
it as a hospice specially designed for the sick, the 
poor, and pilgrims. 

The Hospice of Tonnerre appears to have 
been rebuilt in the fourteenth century. The vast 
design is very impressively carried out. The 
great hall, over 60 feet wide by some 300 long, is 
covered with an open timber roof, boarded in so 
as to form a semicircular vault, which is singularly 

The internal arrangements are very ingenious. 
A wooden gallery in the half-story commanded a 
view into each unceiled cubicle, by means of which 
it was possible to keep constant watch over the 
patients without disturbing them. 

The hospital of Beaune has been so often described 
as to call for little comment. The painted timber 
vault of the great hall seems to have been imitated 
from that of Tonnerre. Its distinctive character has 
unfortunately been destroyed by the construction of 

Barns, Hospitals, Dwelling-houses, etc. 345 

a ceiling, the joists of which rest on the tie-beams of 
the original skeleton. But the inner court is intact, 
with the arcade and well and wash-house so familiar 
from descriptions and illustrations. Another pictur- 
esque and often described feature is the great roof on 
the south side, with its double row of dormer windows 
surmounted by a rich ornamentation of hammered 

In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries the practice 
of vaulting the great halls of hospitals with stone 
was abandoned. It became usual in France and in 
Flanders to cover the vast aisles with timber roofs, 
the boarded vaults of which were either pointed or 

The term maladrerie was applied to the small 
lazar-houses, numbers of which were built in France 
in the neighbourhood of abbeys or of priories remote 
from towns and great religious centres. 

The Maladrerie du Tortoir, not far from Laon, on 
the Route de la Fere, is a type of such rural hospitals. 
Both in plan and in the details of construction it 
recalls the hospital of Tonnerre, more especially in 
the ingenious arrangement of the interior. 

In the planning of these charitable institutions 
mediaeval architects exhibited the same skill and 
ingenuity which distinguished their treatment of 
religious monuments. Viollet-le-Duc has pointed out 
the strange illogicality of such a theory as that which 
would make artists who showed extraordinary subtlety 
in religious buildings responsible for so much coarse- 
ness in civil structures. We must not hold them 
accountable for the destruction of their well-planned 
hospitals from the sixteenth century onwards, and 

346 Gothic Architecture 

the substitution of buildings, the main preoccupation 
of whose architects was to provide accommodation 
for as many patients as possible. Louis XIV. 
endowed the hospitals built in his reign with the 
revenues of the lazar - houses and maladreries, for 
which there was no further occasion, leprosy having 
disappeared from his dominions. But his hospitals 
leave much to be desired from the hygienic point of 
view ; the mediaeval hospitals, on the other hand, 
have a monumental simplicity of appearance, and 
offer a liberal supply of light, air, and space to their 
patients. We do not assert the superiority of the 
cellular system commonly adopted in hospitals from 
the twelfth to the fifteenth century, over that of the 
open wards of our own times, but we may be 
permitted to point out its great moral advantages. 
And, as our learned authority remarks, the system 
owed its adoption to a noble delicacy of charitable 
feeling in the mediaeval founders and builders of 
our maisons dieu. 

Houses and Hotels , or Town-Houses of the Nobility. 
The history of human habitations is a subject of 
such interest that to treat it adequately a special 
work would be necessary. Such an undertaking 
has, moreover, been admirably carried out by a 
famous architect. 1 

We must refrain from discussion of prehistoric 
or Merovingian dwellings, or of those rural hovels, 
the typical variations of which, in different countries 

1 Ch. Gamier, Member of the Institute, whose picturesque embodi- 
ment of research, in his reconstruction of human habitations from the 
lacustrine period to our own times, attracted so much attention at the 
Exhibition of 1889. 

Barns, Hospitals, Dwelling-houses, etc. 347 

and climates, offers so wide a field for study. To 
keep within the limits assigned us by the arbitrary 
term Gothic Architecture, we must confine our rapid 
sketch to the architectural period which dates from 
the middle of the twelfth to the close of the fifteenth 

Nothing remains of habitations constructed in 


France before the twelfth century, save the vague 
and scanty records of ancient texts, manuscripts, 
and bas-reliefs. But we may reasonably infer that 
the houses of the period were built of wood, as was 
natural in a country containing great tracts of forest. 
We know that most of the important buildings were 
timber structures, which explains the fact that 
numbers of twelfth -century churches were founded 
on the sites of earlier buildings destroyed by fire. 


Gothic Architecture 

Roman, Gallo- Roman, and Merovingian houses 
were arranged to suit the habits of the times ; they 
were lighted by windows opening upon an inner 
courtyard, in accordance with the ancient custom of 
separating the women's apartments from the rest of 
the habitation. 

But by the end of the twelfth century the urban 
dwelling was adapted to the needs of a family. The 


doors and windows of the house were made to over- 
look the street. The building consisted generally of 
a hall or shop, in which a handicraft was carried on, 
or manufactured goods were offered for sale. It 
was lighted by a wide arcade of round or pointed 
arches, and was either on a level with the street, or 
raised above it by the height of some few steps. A 
back room, opening upon a courtyard, served for 
kitchen and dining-room. To the left of the facade 

Barns, Hospitals, Dwelling-houses, etc. 349 

a little door gave access to a staircase which led to 
the first floor, where was a large solar or living-room 
and an apartment overlooking the courtyard. Above 
these were the chambers occupied by the inmates of 
the house. 

The architecture of such houses varies according 
to the climate, the materials of the country, and the 
customs of the inhabitants. The houses had no 


special individuality as long as the windows were 
treated merely as apertures for the admission of light; 
but directly these began to take on a certain elabora- 
tion, and such features as mouldings or sculptures were 
introduced in the facades, a system of decoration 
was borrowed from the neighbouring churches or 
abbeys of monkish architects, a consequence either 
of the far-reaching influence of monastic schools, or 
of the spirit of imitation and force of habit. 

Certain houses at Cluny, which date from the 

350 Gothic Architecture 

twelfth century, exemplify the style. They are built 


almost entirely of stone. The arcading recalls 

Barns, Hospitals, Dwelling-houses, etc. 351 
various details of monastic buildings which the con- 


structors very naturally took as models. 

352 Gothic Architecture 

The same may be said of the other houses, of 


which we give drawings as illustrating the urban 

Barns, Hospitals, Divelling- houses, etc. 353 

type of the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries. It is 
easy to trace the successive developments of religious 
and monastic architecture in the domestic buildings 
of the period. 

It is not until the close of the fourteenth century, 
and more notably in the fifteenth, that such influences 
gradually die out, and change, if not progress, becomes 
evident in the altered form of the arcades, which no 
longer resemble those of cloisters or churches, but 
have elliptic or square apertures. These, in the 
windows, are no longer subdivided by a stone tracery 
of ornamental cusps and foliations, but merely by 
plain mullions and transoms, forming square com- 
partments which it was possible to fill with movable 
glazed sashes of the simplest construction. 

The facades are generally of durable materials, 
such as stone or brick, and the use of wood is re- 
stricted to the floors and the roofs. 

Houses of the fifteenth century in the Northern 
departments, where stone is scarce, were built mainly 
of wood, the more solid material being used only on 
the ground -floor. The overhanging upper stories 
were of timbers, the interstices being filled in 
with brick. The principal members, such as corbel 
tables, beams, ledges, and window - frames, were 
decorated with mouldings and sculptures. The 
fagade usually terminated in a gable, the projecting 
pointed arch of which followed the lines of the 
timber roof. In other cases it was crowned by richly 
decorated dormer windows. In rainy districts the 
roof was covered with slates or shingles. 

It was usual in the North to detach each house 
at the upper story, even when it was not practic- 

2 A 

354 Gothic Architecture 

able to allow a narrow passage or space between. 


This was not merely a concession to the vanity of 
the citizen, to his desire to make his independent 

Barns, Hospitals, Dwelling-houses, etc. 355 
gable a feature of the street. It was also a pre- 


356 Gothic Architecture 

cautionary measure against fires, which were frequent 


and disastrous in cities built mainly of wood, and 

Barns, Hospitals, Dwelling-houses > etc. 357 

possessing but very rudimentary appliances where- 
with to meet such a catastrophe. 

The fifteenth and notably the sixteenth centuries 
were marked by the building of a new class of 
dwellings, the maisons nobles, or town-houses of the 
nobles, who, down to this period, had lived entirely 



in their fortified castles. These great seignorial 
mansions differ essentially from the houses of the 
citizens. The hotel occupied a considerable space, in 
which a courtyard and even gardens were included. 
The house of the citizen or merchant was built flush 
with the street, whereas the hotel was placed in an 
inner court, often richly decorated, and the street- 
front was devoted to stables, coach-houses, servants' 


Gothic Architecture 

lodgings, and the great entrance which gave access 
to the court and the main building. 

The names at least of some famous Parisian hotels 
of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries have survived, 
such as the hotels des Tournelles, de St. Pol, de 


Sens, de Nevers, and de la Tremoille, the last 
destroyed in 1840. The Hotel de Cluny, which 
dates from 1485, is a very curious example, and of 
remarkable interest, as having been preserved almost 

Several great houses of the same period still exist 
at Bourges. Among others, the Hotel Lallemand, 

Barns, Hospitals, Dwelling-houses, etc. 359 

built towards the close of the fifteenth century, the 
inner court of which is especially noteworthy, and 
the still more famous hotel or chateau of Jacques 

This beautiful structure dates from the second 
half of the fifteenth century, and is built in part on 
the ramparts of the town. It is so well known that 
it will be unnecessary to describe or illustrate the 
famous portals and inner court. But the fagade on 
the Place Berry, though less sumptuous, is hardly less 
interesting. Here we have the two great towers of the 
fortified enceinte, with their Gallo-Roman bases, and 
between them the corps de logis or main buildings of 
the mansion, which retain many features of the feudal 
castle, and bear witness to the wealth and power of 
Charles VII.'s ill-used favourite, the famous banker, 
whose splendid fortunes suffered such undeserved 



THE social evolution which resulted in the en- 
franchisement of the communes had its origin in the 
eleventh century, though the consummation of this 
great political change was of much later date. 

Down to the fourteenth century the efforts of 
the communes to exercise the rights conferred on 
them in charters wrung from their feudal lords received 
incessant checks. The opposition they encountered is 
hardly to be wondered at, seeing that every concession 
in their favour tended to diminish the despotic 
authority of those from whom it had been won. No 
sooner, therefore, was a charter rescinded and a 
commune abolished than the instant demolition of 
the town -hall and belfry was demanded. Hence 
very few town-halls of earlier date than the fourteenth 
century have survived. 

Town-halls. A few of the great Southern cities 
owned town-halls so early as the twelfth century, among 
them Bordeaux, where the building was of the Roman 
type, and Toulouse, whose town-hall was practically 
a fortalice. 

But by far the greater number of the infant 

Town-halls , Belfries, Palaces . 361 
communes were sunk in poverty, and so over- 


whelmed with dues and taxes that they had no 
margin for communal buildings. 

362 Gothic Architecture 

In the fourteenth century even the commune of 
Paris could boast only the most modest of town- 
halls. In 1357 Etienne Marcel, provost of the 
merchants, bought from the collector of the salt- 
tax a small two - gabled building which adjoined 
several private dwellings. We may, therefore, con- 
clude that down to this period the town - hall 
was in nowise distinguished from an ordinary 

At the close of the century Caen possessed a 
town-hall of four stories. 

During the thirteenth century many new towns 
and communes had been founded by the Crown, the 
nobles, and the clergy, the depositaries of power in 
the Middle Ages. 

In the North, Villeneuve le Roi, Villeneuve le 
Comte, and Villeneuve 1'Archeveque owed their 
existence, material and communal, to these powers 

In the South the war of the Albigenses had 
devastated and even destroyed many cities. The 
authorities recognised the necessity of repeopling 
the districts so cruelly decimated. The great nobles, 
spiritual and temporal, reconcentrated the scattered 
population by grants of lands for the building of 
new towns, and sought to establish them permanently 
by apparently liberal concessions in the form of 
communal franchises. 

According to Caumont and Anthyme St. Paul, 
these new towns or bastides may be identified by 
their names, or by their regularity of plan, or by both 

Certain names indicate a royal foundation or 

Town-halls, Belfries, Palaces 363 

dependency, as Realville or Monreal ; others point 
to privileges conferred on the town, as Bonneville, 
La Sauvetat, Sauveterre, Villefranche, or even La 
Bastide, and Villeneuve. 

A third class borrow the names of French and 
occasionally of foreign provinces or towns. Anthyme 


St. Paul gives a list of such in the Annuaire de 
Varcheologie francaise, Barcelone or Barcelonnette, 
Beauvais, Boulogne, Bruges, Cadix, Cordes (for 
Cordova), Fleurance (for Florence), Bretagne, 
Cologne, Valence, Mielan (for Milan), La Franchise 
and Francescas, Grenade, Libourne (for Leghorn), 
Modene, Pampelonne (for Pampeluna), etc. 

A new town or bastide is usually rectangular in 

364 Gothic Architecture 

plan, and measures some 750 by 580 feet. 
Sauveterre d'Ayeyron is an example. In the centre 
is a square, into which a street debouches on each 
side, thus dividing the town into four parts. The 
square is surrounded by galleries or cloisters, of 
round or pointed arches, covered with a timber roof 
or vault, with or without transverse arches, whence 
the term Place des Converts, still common in some 
Southern towns. 

In the centre of the square stood the town-hall, 
the ground-floor of which w r as used as a public 
market. Montrejeau is one of the towns in which 
this regularity of construction is observed, also 
Montpazier, the streets of which are lined with wide 
arcades of pointed arches. Other examples are to be 
found at Eymet, Domme, and Beaumont, Libourne, 
Ste. Foy, and Sauveterre de Guyenne, Damazan, and 
Montflanquin, Rabastens, Mirande, Grenade, Isle 
d'Albi, and Realmont, etc. Several bastides in 
Guyenne were founded by the English. Finally, 
the lower town of Carcassonne } founded in 1 247, 
and Aigues-Mortes, founded in 1248, also belong to 
the class of bastides or new towns. 1 

" The series of Southern bastides, inaugurated in 
1222 by the foundation of Cordes-Albigeois, was 
brought to a close in 1344 by a petition of the 
town - councillors of Toulouse, in answer to which 
the king forbade any further settlements. Two 
hundred at least of the bastides still exist in 
Guyenne, Gascony, Languedoc, and the neighbour- 
ing districts. Several of these were unprosperous, and 
are still small villages. In some cases their close 

1 See Part III., " Military Architecture." 

Town-halls, Belfries, Palaces 365 

proximity tended greatly to their mutual dis- 
advantage." x 


1 Anthyme St. Paul, Histoire Momtmentale de la France. 

366 Gothic Architecture 

It is worthy of remark that civil architecture had 


Town-halls, Belfries, Palaces 367 

so greatly developed by the fifteenth century as to 
react in its turn upon the religious art to which it 
owed its birth. It gave to religious architecture 
certain new forms, such as the elliptic arch, adopted 
at the close of the fifteenth and throughout the 
following century, at which period civil architecture 
reached its apogee. 

The Southern communes preserved their franchises 
till the sixteenth century, that disastrous era of re- 
ligious warfare which involved the destruction of 
innumerable buildings. 

The town-hall of St. Antonin (Tarn et Garonne) 
is perhaps the only surviving one of the period. 
With the exception of the belfry, it is an almost 
perfect type of the architecture of this class in the 
thirteenth century, to which date it may probably be 
assigned (Fig. 200). 

The little town of St. Antonin, which had obtained 
its communal charter in 1136, suffered much for its 
fidelity to Raymond VI., Count of Toulouse. During 
the war of the Albigenses it was twice taken by 
Simon de Montfort, whose son, Guy de Montfort, 
sold it to St. Louis in 1226. It was at this period, 
no doubt, that the present building was erected. It 
has the characteristic feature of the civic monument, 
the belfry, which, in the Middle Ages, was the 
architectural expression of municipal authority and 

The building is a simple rectangular structure, 
over which the square tower rises to the right. The 
ground -floor is a market, communicating with an 
adjoining market-place, and with the narrow street 
which passes under the belfry. The grande salle or 

368 Gothic Architecture 

municipal hall occupies the first story, together with 


a smaller apartment in the tower. The second 
story is divided in the same manner. 

Town-kails, Belfries, Palaces 369 

We have already called attention to the far- 
reaching influence of French art as manifested in 
religious architecture so early as the close of the 
twelfth century. Such influences were no less 
paramount in developments of civil architecture, 
and we find municipal buildings of the fourteenth 
century in Italy at Pienza and other towns in 
which not only analogies but points of identity with 
the thirteenth -century example of St. Antonin are 
distinctly traceable. 

The municipal buildings of the North, the most 
perfect types of which are those of Germany and 
Belgium, are nearly uniform in plan. A belfry 
rises from the centre of the facade, flanked right 
and left on the first story by the great civic 
halls. The ground-floor is a market for the sale of 

The cloth-hall of Ypres (so named since the con- 
struction of a new town -hall in the seventeenth 
century) is one of the most beautiful of such ex- 
amples. The building was begun in 1202, but was 
not completed till 1304. The fagade measures 440 
feet in length, and has a double row of pointed 
windows. It terminates at each angle in a very 
graceful pinnacle, and the centre is marked by a 
noble square belfry of vast size, the oldest portion of 
the building, the foundation-stone of which was laid 
by Baldwin IX. of Flanders in 1200. 

The belfry of Bruges, which was begun at the 
close of the thirteenth century, and completed some 
hundred years later, is another most interesting ex- 
ample of the civic buildings of its period. 

The structure consists of a market and the usual 
2 B 

Gothic Architecture 

municipal halls, crowned by the lofty belfry, the 
original height of which was 350 feet. 


The hotel de ville or town-hall of Bruges, which 

Town-halls, Belfries, Palaces 371 

replaced an earlier municipal building in the Place 
du Bourg, dates from between 1376 to 1387. Its 


architectural character differs entirely from that of 

37 2 Gothic Architecture 

the belfry. Its elegant design and the richness of 
its ornamentation give it the appearance father of a 
sumptuously decorated chapel than of a civic building. 

We may close the list of Belgian town -halls of 
the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries with that of 
Louvain. The design and general scheme of 
elaborate decoration are akin to those of the hall of 
Bruges, and it bears the same ecclesiastical impress. 

It was built between 1448 and 1463 by Mathieu 
de Layens, master mason of the town and its outskirts , 
and is a rectangular building of three stories. The 
gable ends are pierced with three rows of pointed 
windows, and adorned with a rich profusion of 
mouldings, statues, and sculptured ornament. The 
steep roof has four tiers of dormer-windows. The 
angles are flanked by graceful open-work turrets, 
with delicate pinnacles, and similar turrets receive 
the ridge of the roof at either end. The lateral 
fagades are adorned with three rows of statues and 
allegorical sculptures, covering the whole with a 
wealth of exquisite tracery. Its lace-like delicacy 
has suffered considerably from the action of weather, 
and it was found necessary to renovate a considerable 
portion of the ornament in 1 840. 

Belfries. In the early days of the enfranchise- 
ment of the communes, it became customary to call 
the community together by means of bells, which at 
that period were confined to the church towers, and 
which it was unlawful to ring without the consent of 
the clergy. It may easily be conceived to what 
incessant broils the new order gave rise, the clergy 
as a body being strongly opposed to the separatist 
tendency of measures which attacked their feudal 

Town-halls, Belfries, Palaces 373 

rights. The municipalities finally put an end to 
internecine warfare in this connection by hanging 
bells of their own over the town-gates, a custom 
which was superseded towards the close of the 
twelfth and beginning of the thirteenth century by 
the erection of towers for the civic bells. Such was 
the origin of the belfry, the earliest material ex- 
pression of communal independence. 

The structure usually formed part of the town- 
hall, but was sometimes an isolated building. The 
isolated belfry was a great square tower of several 
stories, crowned by a timber roof protected either 
by slates or lead. The great bells hung in one 
story, and above them the little bells of the carillon. 

A lodging, opening upon a surrounding gallery, 
was constructed in the upper story for the accom- 
modation of the watchman, whose duty it was to 
warn the inhabitants of approaching danger and to 
give notice of fires. The bells rang at sunrise and 

The chimes (carillon) marked the hours and their 
subdivisions, and at festival seasons mingled their 
joyous notes with the deep and solemn voice of the 
great bell. 

The custom of tolling the great bell to give notice 
of a fire still obtains in many villages of the North, 
the greater number of which have preserved their 
belfries in spite of the modifications they have under- 
gone at different periods. 

The belfry tower usually contained a prison, a 
hall for the town-councillors, a muniment room, and 
a magazine for arms. It was long the only town- 
hall of a commune. 

374 Gothic Architecture 

We shall find examples of these early municipal 


buildings among the isolated belfries of Belgium, 
such as that at Tournai, founded in 1187, and 

Town-halls, Belfries, Palaces 375 

rebuilt in part at the close of the fourteenth century, 
and that of Ghent, the square tower of which dates 
from the end of the twelfth century. Its spire is a 
modern addition. 

A few buildings of this particular class still exist 
in France. Such is the belfry of Calais, the square 
tower of which was built during the fourteenth and 
fifteenth centuries. It is crowned by an octagonal 
superstructure, begun at the close of the fifteenth 
century, and completed in the early years of the 
seventeenth. The belfry of Bethune, which dates from 
the fourteenth century, is another. It consists of a 
square tower reinforced at three of its angles by a 
hexagonal turret, corbelled out from the wall. The 
fourth turret is of the same shape, but here the projec- 
tion is carried up from the ground-floor, and contains 
the spiral staircase which communicates with the 
various stories of the tower, and terminates on 
the embattled parapet above. The building 
is completed by a pyramidal spire of great 
elegance, crowned by the watchman's tower. The 
plan and details of this superstructure proclaim 
it the source whence the gable turrets of 
Louvain were derived. The great bells hang 
in the uppermost story, the smaller ones of the 
carillon in the story below. On each facade at 
the summit of the tower a great dial marks the 
hours, as was customary from the fourteenth century 
onwards, when town-clocks first came into general 

use. ' 


The towns of Auxerre, Beaune, Amiens, Evreux, 
and Avignon still possess their belfries. 

To the belfry of Amiens, which dates from the 

376 Gothic Architecture 

thirteenth century, a square dome was added some 


hundred years ago. But the great bell of the 
fourteenth century has been preserved. 

Town-halls, Belfries, Palaces 377 

The belfry of Evreux retains its fifteenth-century 


character almost in its entirety. That of Avignon, 
a monument of the close of the fifteenth century, was 


Gothic Architecture 

happily spared when the town-hall was replaced by a 
modern structure. 


The gate-house of the hotel de ville at Bordeaux, 
known as the grosse cloche, is an example of the 

Town- halls, Belfries, Palaces 379 

more ancient usage. Here we find the bell hung 



over the gateway, as already described. The belfry 
of Bordeaux, which appears to date from the fifteenth 

380 Gothic Architecture 

century, is very remarkable. It consists of two 
towers connected by a curtain through which is an 
arched passage. A second arch protects the great 
bell in the upper story, and the whole is surmounted 
by a central roof, flanked right and left by the 
conical crowns of the lateral turrets. 

Markets, warehouses, and exchanges were often 
annexes of the town -halls. A few examples of 
such buildings have been preserved, but those of the 
third class are extremely rare. A specimen, re- 
markable both for construction and decoration, which 
recall the Spanish architecture of the fourteenth 
century, still exists at Perpignan. It is a house 
known as La Loge^ built in 1396, which originally 
served as exchange to the cloth merchants of French 
Catalonia and Roussillon. 

Palaces. In the Middle Ages the name palace 
was, given to the dwelling of the sovereign. Its 
chief feature was the basilica or judgment-hall. 

The great nobles followed the royal example 
and constructed palaces in the capitals of their feofs, 
as at Dijon, Troyes, and Poitiers, which are the 
most important of such examples. 

The town-houses of archbishops and bishops were 
also called palaces. 

The courts, parliaments, and tribunals of the 
executive were held in the palace of the suzerain or 
the bishop, where certain of the buildings were open 
to the public. The important feature, the great 
hall (grand salle), occupied a vast covered space in 
which the plenary courts were held, the vassals 
assembled, and banquets were given. It communi- 
cated with galleries or ambulatories. A chapel was 

Town-halls, Belfries, Palaces 


always included in the plan of the palace, which 
consisted of the lodging of the lord and his followers ; 
offices, often of great extent ; rooms for the storing 
of archives ; magazines, prisons, and innumerable 
auxiliary buildings, divided by courtyards, and in 
some cases by gardens. 



In Paris the palace proper, which was in the He 
de la Cite, consisted of buildings constructed from 
the time of St. Louis to the reign of Philip the Fair. 
From the reign of Charles V. it was specially de- 
voted to the administration of justice. 

The only remains of the buildings of St. Louis 
are the Ste. Chapelle, the two great towers with their 
intervening curtain on the Quai de PHorloge, and 
the square clock tower at the angle of the quay. 

3 8 2 

Gothic Architecture 

The best examples of seignorial castles are : 
Troyes, which was built by the Counts of Champagne, 
and inhabited by them till they removed to Provins 
in the thirteenth century ; and the palace of the 
Counts of Poitiers at Poitiers, one of the most 


interesting of such buildings ; it was burnt by the 
English in 1346, and repaired or rebuilt at the close 
of the fourteenth century by the brother of Charles 
V., Jean, Duke of Berry, to whom we owe, among 
other architectural works, the curious fireplace of 
the great vestibule, called the Salle des Pas Perdus, 
in the Palais de Justice. 

Town-halls, Belfries, Palaces 


The bishops' palaces were differently planned. 
They usually adjoined the cathedrals, with which 
they communicated either on the north or the south, 
according to the facilities afforded by the site. The 
characteristic symbol of episcopal power which, in 
the earlier centuries of the Middle Ages, claimed 
jurisdiction both in spiritual and temporal matters, 


was the great hall, in later days the synod house and 
the council chamber of the executive. The bishop's 
palace in Paris, rebuilt by Maurice de Sully in 
1 1 60, preserved this mediaeval feature, which is 
even more conspicuous at Sens, in the magnificent 
annexe known as the salle synodale (synod house). 

The canons' lodgings were also in close proximity 
to the cathedral, but on the side opposite to the 
bishop's palace. They were surrounded by an en- 


Goth ic A rch itectu re 

closure, the gates of which were fastened at night. 
It was the duty of the canons to aid the bishop in 
his ministrations. They lived together in annexes 
which communicated with the cathedral by means of 
galleries and cloisters. 1 

The bishops' palaces were often remarkable for 
their elaborate construction. Fragments of the 


primitive buildings are still preserved in the palaces 
of Beauvais, Angers, Bayeux, and Auxerre. 

The ancient episcopal palace of Laon 2 marks a 
development in thirteenth -century architecture. It 
is a good example of that system of construction by 
which the palace was connected with the city ram- 
parts and formed a secondary line of defence. 

1 See Part II., "Monastic Architecture," the cloisters of Puy-en- 
Velay and Elne in Roussillon. 

2 The episcopate was transferred to Soissons in 1809. 

Town-halls, Belfries, Palaces 


This system was also adopted at Narbonne. At 
the close of the thirteenth and during the fourteenth 
century the palace was transformed into a fortress, 
the importance of which bore witness to the power 
of its bishops. After Avignon, it is perhaps the 
most imposing of episcopal dwellings. 

From this time onward the bishops' palaces in- 
creased greatly in size, their dimensions extending 


proportionately with those of the great cathedrals of 
the period. The importance of the episcopal build- 
ings and their dependencies was on a par with the 
wealth and power of their owners. Some idea of 
their magnificence may be gathered from the private 
chapel of the archbishop at Rheims, which dates 
from the middle of the thirteenth century. 

The archbishop's palace at Albi has all the 
character of a feudal castle. Its buildings are pro- 
tected by a keep, and encircled by walls and towers 

2 c 

386 Gothic Architecture 

connected both with the ramparts of the city, and 
with that more important fortalice, the cathedral 
itself, the tower of which is, in fact, a formidable 
keep. 1 

The transformation of church and palace into 
fortresses by an elaborate system of defence was 
necessitated by the wars which ravaged the district, 
and from which Albi suffered more cruelly than any 
other town. 

The palace of the popes at Avignon which 
Pope Benedict XII. began to build in the fourteenth 
century, and the bishop's palace at Narbonne, are 
among the finest specimens of ecclesiastical fortifica- 
tion in the Middle Ages. 2 

The Popes, having established themselves at 
Avignon in the fourteenth century, built a huge 
mansion on the rock known as the Rocher des Doms, 
which overlooks the Rhone. In 1336 Benedict XII., 
having destroyed his predecessor's palace, laid the 
foundations of the immense fortified pile now in 
existence. The plans were the work of the French 
architect, Pierre Obrier. The building was added 
to by the successors of Benedict XII., Popes 
Clement VI., Innocent VI., and Urban V., and was 
completed, or at any rate made efficient for de- 
fence, by 1398, when Pedro de Luna, who became 
pope under the title of Benedict XIII., sustained a 
memorable siege therein. 

The whole building, which covers a very consider- 
able area, was completed in less than sixty years. 
Its formidable mass was further strengthened by 

1 See Part I., Cathedral of Albi, Figs. 70-73. 
2 For the Palace of the Popes, see Albert Lenoir and Viollet-le-Duc. 

Town- halls, Belfries, Palaces 387 

the fortified enceinte of the town, some three miles 
in circumference. 

In general conception, in the architectural skill 
of its construction, and in its tasteful decoration, 
the Palace of the Popes at Avignon bears away the 
palm from all contemporary buildings in Germany and 
Italy, where French influences were paramount. 


This noble monument is absolutely and entirely 
French. No finer combination of religious, mon- 
astic, military, and civil types could be desired in 
illustration of the art we have agreed to term 
Gothic Architecture, but which might be more truly 
entitled : Our National Architecture in the Middle Ages. 

Justice indeed demands this tardy homage. Our 
vast churches, our superb cathedrals, our mighty 
castles and palace fortresses, the masterpieces that 

388 Gothic Architecture 

fill our museums manifestations of artistic power 
which should move us, not to servile imitation but 
to fruitful study, all were the creations of native 

That expansive force which made our national 
art the great civilising medium of the Middle Ages 
was derived from our own early architects, civil 
and religious. The principles and practice of 
monumental art were carried by French architects 
into all countries, though the results of their 
teaching are more conspicuous in Italy and Germany 
than elsewhere. Native builders and artists estab- 
lished the supremacy of French art throughout 
Western Europe, and even in the East. And 
though the foreign evolution, which marked the 
sixteenth century, did indeed exercise a transient 
influence in France, it must be remembered that 
the way had been prepared for this apparently 
novel movement by those French artists who have 
carried the fame of our beloved country throughout 
the civilised world. 


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NA Corroyer, Edouard 

L|L|Q Gothic architecture, ed. by 

C6713 Armstrong, tr. by Simmonds